Before you click the back button, thinking you’ve arrived at the wrong blog, let me assure you…I DO NOT hate picture books.
And neither does Timothy Young, author-illustrator of the new picture book I HATE PICTURE BOOKS! It’s his main character with the picture book problemo.
I will let him explain…
In November I was a guest blogger for PiBoIdMo and I told a brief version of how I had the idea for I HATE PICTURE BOOKS!. I was at the NJSCBWI 2011 summer conference where I was on the faculty. I taught a seminar about creating pop-up books and sat on a panel with some of the other authors in the KidLit Authors Club. I attended a couple of the other seminars while there, including “Finding The Funny Stuff” with Audrey Vernick and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich. They were talking about parody (I love good parody) in children’s books and Olugbemisola made a very funny comment about Paddington Bear’s immigration status.
That’s where things got rolling. I’ve always loved good parody but I hadn’t really thought of doing a parody book. There have been some really good ones lately like Michael Rex’s THE RUNAWAY MUMMY and GOODNIGHT GOON. So sitting there I started thinking, if I were going to do a parody what would it be? Images of classic books started running through my head and I thought, there are too many to choose from. Could I do something that used a bunch of books instead of just one? Somewhere in my thoughts appeared this kid, this boy who misinterpreted what he was reading. He was angry about it and he yelled “I hate picture books!”.
I have to say I really liked that title. It had a great hook and I thought “there’s a title readers will notice”. It has to be a good story with a title like that. I thought of all of the books this boy would be angry at. I thought of the kind of trouble he would get into based on what he read. I was really enjoying the process.
I had the beginning of the book really fleshed out, I was even designing spreads in my head. Having the boy (he was eventually named Max) appear in the books he was talking about, and illustrating him in the style of classic illustrators really excited me.
I then came up with the idea of having lots and lots of books lying on the floor and I couldn’t wait to get home and start drawing some of the scenes I was working out in my head.
So this story pushed it’s way out of my head. Once I got home from the conference I began furiously drawing. I designed my boy and started drawing him onto the scenes I was developing. I went to my local library and checked out dozens of books. (I’ve dedicated this book to my mom and to Rosemary Morris, the children’s librarian at the Talbot County Library). I’ve had an ability to mimic other peoples styles which I’ve developed working in the toy industry with licensed product from Disney, Henson and other famous character brands. I knew I had to go the New York in August for 2 weeks so I gave myself a deadline to have a rough dummy ready for then.
I made my deadline and set up some meetings. I got a very good reaction from a number of people who’s opinion I really respect. I HATE PICTURE BOOKS! was sent out to a number of publishers by my then agent, and was turned down (nicely) by all of them. In November I was introduced to the good people at Schiffer Publishing. I submitted it along with SHADOWS ON MY WALL, THEY’RE COMING! and another book. They came back to me quickly saying they wanted all four. Since SHADOWS ON MY WALL and THEY’RE COMING! were almost ready to go they were put into the schedule right away. I then had 6 months to finish all of the illustrations for I HATE PICTURE BOOKS! and here it is coming out in a couple of weeks!
I’m having a book launch event at Books of Wonder in NYC on March 2nd (Dr. Seuss’ Birthday!) from 1 – 3 pm. If you can’t make it and want to get a signed copy, you can order one from my Kickstarter campaign until Sunday, February 17th when the campaign ends. You can see a video there of me reading the first few pages of the book.
I’m also having a contest on my website, www.ihatepicturebooks.com. If you can recognize and name 40 books from the over 250 classic and modern picture books referenced in it you can enter to win over a dozen signed books that appear in my book. They are by authors and illustrators you’ve actually heard of.
I definitely cannot wait to get my hands on this one.
How about you?