I am so absolutely thrilled that BOY + BOT releases today because I’ve been waiting for it for a long, long time.
It’s the debut picture book by my good friend, Ame Dyckman—and get this—it’s illustrated by the hugely talented Dan Yaccarino! I mean, this has got to be the best picture book EVER with an author-illustrator team just as lovable as Boy and Bot themselves.
And for this very special day, I’ve got prizes to give away! One AFFIRMATIVELY AWESOME prize pack including BOY + BOT, stickers, bookmarks, and an *exclusive* BOT keychain clip made by author-zoologist-educator-sculptor Jess Keating!
So let’s get on with the fun!
TL: Ame, you and I have been friends for a few years now, after meeting at NJ-SCBWI first page sessions. (I knew I had to get to know you, with your spiky pink hair and Lego bracelet.) Is that how you began your kidlit career, attending SCBWI events?
AD: *laughing* Was my hair pink back then? I don’t remember my hair color at the time (it’s blue, now), but I remember thinking, “Wow! This Tara person is funny and nice and she really knows her kidlit! I like her!” BAM! Friends!
And yes, attending SCBWI events–YAY, NJ-SCBWI!–started everything for me! When I first joined, I knew I wanted to write picture books, but I didn’t know how. My first manuscripts were REALLY bad, but nobody made fun of me. Everybody was helpful. (YOU taught me how to page a PB, remember? I still have your diagram!) I went to as many events as I could—First Page Sessions, Mentoring Workshops, Networking Dinners, Annual Conferences, etc. I learned tons—still do!—and met lots of amazing industry professionals and made lots of wonderful friends. At the 2009 NJ SCBWI Annual Conference, I pitched BOY + BOT to Super Agent Scott Treimel, and he said, “I love it! Let’s work together!”
TL: I distinctly remember the 2009 conference and a certain editor making goo-goo eyes at you during lunch…but he had read your manuscript and was bonkers over BOY + BOT. I thought to myself, GO AME! You could feel the buzz about that manuscript at the event. You were in deep conversation with several agents.
So we want to know—how did this beep-worthy book idea come about?
AD: The short answer: I love robots! (I used to doodle robots instead of doing my math homework. Even in college!) The long answer: I love robots and unusual friendship stories and mirror stories always make me laugh, so I hoped mine would make other people laugh, too.
TL: So BOY + BOT is your debut and it has something like 347 starred industry reviews! Are you thrilled or what?
AD: I’m SO happy, and really grateful for all the reviewer love. Here’s hoping the little Boys (and Girls!) and Bots that Dan and I made the book for love it, too!
TL: We’re chatting on the eve of your book’s release. Will you be able to sleep tonight? It’s a little like Christmas Eve, isn’t it?
AD: It feels like Christmas Eve and Birthday Eve and Leaving-for-Disney-World-Tomorrow Eve all smooshed together! I was up until 3:45 this morning because I was so excited already! (But, I think I’d better try to nap later today—I just searched the fridge and then the entire house looking for the bag of baby carrots, only to find I’d put them in the clothes dryer!)
TL: How awesome was it to see Dan Yaccarino’s vision of your characters? Were they anything like you imagined?
AD: Seeing Dan’s first sketches was the greatest! My family gathered around, we clicked “Open,” and then we all shouted, “Look! Bot’s… BIG! That’s BRILLIANT!” (Up until then, we’d envisioned Boy and Bot being the same small size! I dunno why!) But a small Boy and a big Bot is GENIUS! We could already see all the wonderful humor and affection Dan was putting into the characters, and knew his final artwork would be amazing. When it came in, I loved it SO MUCH, I hugged my computer!
TL: *insert clever segue to Dan here*
Howdy Dan, Mr. Keeno Yaccarino! Tell me, when you read Ame’s manuscript, it was love at first sight, right? Kind of like BOY + BOT themselves, right? RIGHT?! (Say “affirmative,” Dan.)
TL: Ame said said when the illustrations came in, she was surprised to see BOT was a big bot and not a small one, like Boy. Why did you make the friends different sizes?
DY: Hmmm. I’m not sure. I guess it was the vision that formed in my mind when I read the manuscript.
There is rarely a logical reason why I do things visually. I listen to my impulse and trust my vision. If it feels right and is right for the book, then I do it.
Then perhaps I’ll rationalize it later.
TL: OK, would you care to rationalize why the inventor is bald?
DY: All inventors should be bald!
TL: *spittake* You’ve got a point there. Plus he reminds me of a lightbulb, so that’s very clever.
And here’s something else that’s clever—our contest to win the AFFIRMATIVELY AWESOME prize pack (book, Bot clip, stickers & bookmarks) PLUS there’s also TWO MORE copies of BOY + BOT to give away!
Enter by telling us what you think Boy’s real name is. Ame says she’s always wondered about it. So let her know!
You get one entry for commenting and then one entry for every share on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Just mention it when you comment!
Have fun and good luck! Comments will close the end of April 20 and winners will be announced on April 21.