About five years ago, Robbi decided that we were going to start a small press that would publish children’s picture books. After all, we made books. We had kids. Our kids liked books. We liked our kids.
The one small problem was that I’d never written children’s books before and didn’t really know if I could. So before we committed to starting Bobbledy, I set out to see if I’d be up to the challenge.
For 100 consecutive days, I wrote a children’s book manuscript. Or, at least, I tried. Some of my efforts quickly turned dark or bizarre. But a handful turned into books that we’ve gone on to publish: Bobby and the Robots (day 44), Archipelago (day 49), The Imaginary Dragon (day 54), and Henny Wampum Had a Really Big Head (day 61), and The Girl With Frogs In Her Ears (day 72) all grew from seeds planted in that 3+ months of flailing.
And then there was In Egypt, There Are Pyramids (day 64). I remember writing it while sitting at the table in our cabin in Alaska. It was the first sunny day in a week, and the world seemed very beautiful.
The original copy was a string of simple observations about the world:
In Egypt, there are pyramids. In Arizona there are canyons.
In your grandma’s house, there are doorknobs. On the playground is a swing with one chain too many on one side.
And so on.
The book didn’t have much of a point, but we liked how it sounded. In turning it into a Bobbledy title, we created a frame: a little boy would explore the world, taking in the large and small beautiful things that he saw wherever he went.
We kept the title as it had been when it tumbled out of my brain.
Robbi did some gorgeous illustrations:
We finished the book and were ready to send it out to all the kids in the Bobbledy Club. But before we sent it to the printer, we decided to share it with our agent Meredith. She liked it and decided to send it along to Erin Stein, our editor and publisher for Babies Ruin Everything.
Erin also liked the book. So much, in fact, that she asked if we might like to publish it with Macmillan instead.
To cut to the chase, we said yes.
We wondered if there was a catch. And there was. But it wasn’t really a “catch” at all. She already loved the idea and and the tone and the voice and the look of the illustrations, but she wanted to sharpen the focus and clarify the message. Which caused us to think hard and do a lot of work on the text. It also led us to scrap all but one of the illustrations I showed you above and to come up with a whole bunch of new ones.
Most important, it led us to make the book a whole lot better. That’s what editors do, and Erin is very good at her job.
Now that the book has been rewritten and re-illustrated and designed and proofed and is sitting at the printer waiting to be born, we can give you a glimpse of version 2.0.
The protagonist is still the same little boy.
But now he has a dog.
He still travels the world observing the very large beautiful things. But now there are a lot more critters on the savannah.
Halfway through the book there is a pivot. For the first stretch of pages, the boy has been “traveling” the world by reading books and imagining points distant. But then he looks out his window and sees that wonder and beauty is all around him. Pretty much everywhere he looks.
At the bottom of the swimming pool, for example.
This illustration was retained from our original version. I’m pretty sure my heart would have broken if it hadn’t.
The book still springs from a place deep inside of us. But now it has a new name.
We’re thrilled with this book. Its message and central imperative is one that both of us hold dear: to move through one’s day with open eyes, deliberately seeing the world, registering the beauty to be found everywhere.
We’ve recently found out that the publication date is February 7, 2017. Which means that, after waiting more than forty years to publish our first trade picture book, we only have to wait four months for the next one.
If you like the sound of the book, or just want to support us, Everywhere, Wonder is available for preorder now (FYI, preorders help a book a lot; many thanks if you’re able to add a copy to your library).
You can also like the book on its Facebook page.
We’ll be posting more photos and news in months to come, but we wanted to “officially” announce our new arrival. The due date of which, happens to be two days prior to the expected delivery of our other pending release.