By Cate McCurry, PA
A series of books written by a couple following the sudden death of their son has grown into a worldwide phenomenon.
Adam’s Cloud is on the verge of notching up one million sales and counts film stars Michael Douglas and Adam Sandler among its A-list fans.
The nine-book series will feature at craft and design fair Gifted in Dublin’s RDS from Wednesday.
The books were written by Benji and Jackie Bennett after the loss of their four-year-old son Adam in 2007 and have far surpassed their expectations.
Their initial plan was to write one book aimed at building love and resilience in youngsters – and to inspire other parents to spend 10 minutes reading to their children at night.
Mrs Bennett (54) from Stillorgan in Dublin, said: “Adam got sick very suddenly with a brain tumour and was gone within 24 hours.
“We never did this for anything other than thinking that some friends might buy a few copies and the idea was to remind parents to read their kids a story before they go to sleep, but it took off from there.
“We’re very lucky – through the books we are able to inspire happiness and love for young families who read them. People who start to write books rarely do so for money; now it’s our full-time business.”
The husband and wife team, who have three other children, saw their first book, Before You Sleep, win Children’s Book of the Year on their son’s anniversary in 2009 – outselling Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo.
Mr Bennett, also 54, said: “We’ll be at a million copies quite soon.
“The idea of the book came along soon after Adam died and we just did it without any thought whatsoever. He is my son and I wanted to have complete control over his books. I didn’t want a publisher editing the message or changing illustrations.”
Part of the proceeds from each book sold goes to charities including Make A Wish, Barretstown, Barnardo’s, LauraLynn and Anam Cara.
The couple will be among hundreds of designers, makers and artisan food producers at contemporary craft and design fair Gifted, which returns to the RDS this Wednesday, running until Sunday evening.
It is expected to attract 35,000 people and generate €5 million in sales.
Another star attraction will be saddler Lucy Cushley, from Killinchy, Co Down, who worked on the set of recently released Hollywood film The Last Duel, starring Matt Damon.
Award-winning Dublin jeweller Mark Newman, who suffers from a rare phenomenon called aphantasia – meaning he cannot visualise his designs in his mind before creating them – will also exhibit.
Gifted organiser Patrick O’Sullivan said the fair will give exhibitors a renewed joy in conveying a gift’s uniqueness to people and the steps involved in making it – something missing in the craft and design industry since Covid-19.
“The fair is a unique opportunity to interact with the most creative people in Ireland and discover thousands of original products,” he said.
Gifted takes place in the RDS Main Hall from December 1st-5th.