His wife asked him to write a children’s book as a Christmas present. After writing a tale about two boys who stumbled upon a Bigfoot-like jungle creature, the 22-year-old author wrote another about things kids take for granted. A publisher accepted the second one but not Hallinan’s illustrations. Inspired by Charles Schulz and Norman Rockwell, Hallinan taught himself how to draw and began illustrating his children’s books. Forty-five years later, Hallinan is still writing. He has written and illustrated 90 books for children and sold more than 9 million copies. Along the way he has taught several thousand people the steps for writing children's books, although few finish them. An ordained minister and the pastor of the Joy Chapel Christian Fellowship in Ashland, the long-time area resident centers his books on the innocence in shared values. And he has even written one for adults.