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Archive for September, 2010

PIGGIE PIE is 15!

I can’t believe I haven’t posted since whenever I last posted! (Uh, okay.  Yes I do.) Well, you know … what can I say? Summer. Things to do. Having fun. Playing golf – which is sort of having fun. Working on new projects, etc. etc. blah blah blah.  But, now it’s back to the blog – (which I’m so not good at), but did want to share and celebrate the 15th birthday (cannot even believe it has been fifteen years!!) of my very first picture book, PIGGIE PIE! Yup.  This is the year.  This is the month.  Most gratefully, Gritch is still going strong – thanks to all the fans of those clever piggies.

Some of you may know the ‘story behind the story’ of Piggie Pie, since I’ve told it at several conferences and such, but for those who don’t, the true story is that Piggie Pie baked in an attic for fifteen years before it was published.  (Hmm,  so, actually, Piggie Pie! is really thirty years old – which, you’re right — can’t be possible since I’m only 35 myself.)

I hear chuckles.  (Don’t you know it’s not nice to laugh at an old lady?)

Okay.  I’m not 35, but the manuscript did sit boxed away in my attic for fifteen years, mainly due to the fact the rejection letters said it was “… not funny…”  “… kids won’t get it …”   “… it’s way too sophisticated …”  “… you shouldn’t write picture books …”

(Gee.  Sounds like what I just heard two weeks ago.)

Due to my serious lack of organizational skills, (i.e. never knowing where I put anything), I never did find whatever it was I was looking for in the attic those many years ago, but I did find the manuscript for Piggie Pie.

Was it fate?  Was it destiny?  Was it just dumb luck?  (Oops. Sorry. Those are lines from Moosetache.)

I went downstairs and read Piggie Pie to my then three year old, who thought it was pretty darn funny. You know, when you’ve gone through childbirth, nothing can really intimidate you anymore — not even the prospect of an editor’s rejection — so I decided to try again and see if there was a publisher that had a taste for Piggie Pie.

Illustrator Howard Fine was a friend, and I asked him if he wanted to collaborate on a picture book. (At the time we didn’t have a clue that was a ‘no-no’.)  Like innocents Judy and Mickey putting on a play, we said, “Let’s make a dummy!”  Howard had the opportunity of an interview with the art director at Clarion, who saw it, loved it, shared it with Editorial, and that’s how it all started.  We were flabbergasted and verklempt when it got such great starred reviews and won so many awards.

Here are some of Howard’s original black and white sketches from the dummy.  Many of the original sketches remained unchanged in finished art, but as so often happens in the process of a book becoming a book, there were several spreads where the illustrations and text changed totally.  Gritch originally wore glasses, Old MacDonald was not disguised piggies, and Howard had not yet imagined Wolf’s ‘Gritchburger’.  It was our editor’s brilliant idea for the non-text spread where the piggies disguise themselves in the barn, one of my favorites.

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