Avery’s Gift

Avery’s Gift

By Jonathan Hoefer

Illustrated by Milana Samarskaya

Picture Book

38 Pages

Ages 0-99

Mascot Books


Avery wakes up in the middle of the night to find herself in unfamiliar surroundings and has somehow lost her colors! The crickets call to her, and flowers from the wall guide her out of bed and into the moonlit garden. With the help of a fox, an owl, and a boy named Dalton, Avery goes on a quest to find her colors… and finds many other meaningful things along the way.

Avery’s Gift is reminiscent of fables told long ago, yet is based on a modern, true story of two, young children, Avery and Dalton. It highlights how their lives were connected one summer night and the gifts they gave each other.

Avery’s Gift is a timeless story of love, loss, friendship, and finding true colors.

The Story Behind The Book

Avery Toole was born in 2004 with a heart defect and after five years of life-threatening complications, she was placed on the national heart transplant list. A few months later, Dalton Lawyer, a caring and energetic eight-year-old boy from Texas, was tragically hit by a truck while riding his bicycle and was pronounced brain dead. Dalton’s parents made the decision to donate his organs, and four people were saved by their generous gift. On August 6, 2009, Avery received his heart. Avery is now a healthy, vibrant 16-year-old girl with a sparkling personality, whose passion for life and spirit lights up a room. The Toole and Lawyer families are still in touch today, forever connected by a strong and loving heart.

As the beautiful illustrations of artist Milana Samarskaya takes the reader on a dreamlike journey to help Avery find her colors, the book also highlights the importance of organ donation. Hoefer is collaborating with Donate Life America to give people a new perspective about organ donation, with the intention of encouraging over 1,000 people to sign-up as nationally registered organ donors. A portion of the sales of Avery’s Gift will be donated to Donate Life America to help further organ donor awareness and education.

“What makes me most proud about Avery’s Gift is that the story can be read from two different vantage points.” says Hoefer. “Younger readers will enjoy this heart-warming, mysterious, and beautiful story of Avery searching for her missing colors with the help of her newly-found friends. Parents can read it with their toddlers and preschool-aged children to demonstrate kindness and friendship, without needing to discuss the ‘story-behind-the-story.’ Older readers will appreciate the book as a reimagined version of a very tragic story, as it can be used as a vehicle to discuss the important aspects of organ donation, and how this decision can be the ultimate act of kindness.”

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Without knowing the backstory, I read this to my son. He was in awe of the gorgeous illustrations bringing every page alive. The story seems to tell a wonderful story of two people who meet in a dreamscape and quickly become friends. Avery is starting to lose her colors so she goes to look for them. Along the way she finds Dalton. He volunteers to help her find her colors. They share in a wonderful dream and play together.

After I read the true story of Avery & Dalton, I went back and reread the book. This touching story brought tears to my eyes. This is a beautiful story for kids and adults alike. Life is such a phenomenal gift we all have – to be able to share that gift with someone else through another’s heartbreak is the ultimate present. This is a book that I will be thinking about for a very long time!

To sign up on the national registry through the Avery’s Gift program please visit: RegisterMe.org/Averys_Gift.

To learn more about organ donation in general, please visit: DonateLife.net.

The Duo Behind The Magic

JONATHAN HOEFER is an author, illustrator and art director and has been involved with the printing and publishing industry for over 20 years. He is a graduate of Syracuse University’s Visual and Performing Arts program, majoring in illustration. His illustrative work has been published in national newspapers and magazines. He has been an illustrator and art director of four books including Eddie Shapes Up by ex-NYC mayor Ed Koch and Pat Thaler Koch, Lilly Lou Makes a New Friend and Lilly Lou Goes to Washington, D.C. a series by Mike Murphy. In addition, Hoefer wrote and illustrated Pun Intended: Welcome to the Punny Farm, which are visual puns, once made famous when he acted as Art Director of the Daily Orange Newspaper at Syracuse University. He currently lives with his family in St. Petersburg, FL.

MILANA SAMARSKAYA is an illustrator that has been drawing ever since she could hold a pencil in her hand. Reading and drawing are her two passions since childhood, and have developed into a love of book illustration, collaborating with children’s writers to give their stories life. Samarskaya currently lives in Taganrog, Russia. Learn more on Samarskaya’s website, and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.

Connect With Milana


Huge thank you to the phenomenal team at Smith Publicity and Jonathan for gifting me this heartfelt book. To get a copy for your home just click on the link below! The book releases on June 1st, but pre-orders are always welcomed!!

Buy The Book

To my readers – you guys are amazing! I’m constantly blown away by your support. I appreciate each and every message sent, every share. Most of all I appreciate just taking the time out of your busy day to read my posts. Have a wonderfully blessed day!


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