Saturday, December 6, 2008

Hop! Plop! - The Life of a First Picture Book, Part I - Conception

Hop! Plop! was conceived on a dark olive-brown couch in an apartment on E 81st St in August of 2001. Tali and I had met at a kids Internet company where we developed educational games and interactive stories for 3-6 year olds. When we both got laid off in the dot com bust, we decided to give the old-fashioned media of books a try.

Our first attempt took place at the cafe of B&N on the upper west side. We wanted to expose kids to creative problem solving. Here's what we came up with: Mouse falls into a hole and can't get out. After many unsuccessful attempts, his friend, Elephant, fills the hole with water from his trunk and Mouse floats out. We thought we were geniuses.

We made the classic mistake of all new authors; we sent it out way too soon.

In our second Mouse and Elephant story. the duo find themselves separated from each other. They try all sorts things before finding a successful solution to their problem. It was sweet and funny and tightly structured. But again. we sent it out before it was really ready.

Miraculously, Alison Keehn at Barefoot Books contacted us. She said both stories were cute, but neither had enough substance to stand alone as a picture book. Did we have others? If so, she would consider an anthology. We were ecstatic. We were at this for a whopping two months and we had been plucked from the slush! We whipped out four more which we thought were equally cute and clever and sent them off. After several months (we did not at that time understand the snail's pace of the publishing world), she wrote that she had met with the president of Barefoot and they were sorry to say that they didn't feel the additional stories were as strong as the original two.

But I have digressed. One of the new stories was Hop! Plop! We had sat on the exceedingly comfy couch on which Tali had a hard time staying awake, and I had asked, "What other problems could a Mouse and an Elephant have? What if Mouse and Elephant tried to go on a seesaw?" And voila! Hop! Plop! was conceived.


Sherrie Petersen said...

I love learning about how others have gotten their foot in the door of this business. Can't wait to hear the rest of the story!

Katie Anderson said...

What an interesting post! I love hearing these stories too!

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Great story! How cool to be plucked from the slush. I really would have loved to see an Elephant/Mouse anthology!

Rebecca Gomez said...

I love that you're sharing this, Corey. I'm looking forward to the next installment!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Awesome. That shows that sometimes not getting what you hope at the time, gets you what you want later :)

Diana said...

Wow, I stopped by this blog after seeing you mention your 'new picture book blog' on Yahoo Group. The place looks great! Like you've been blogging for a while.

I was going to use my ID for a new writing blog I was setting up, but... your settings don't allow for comments just from a person and URL... so if I have a Wordpress blog, but I host it myself, I can't use the comment form. Bummer.