These three. They are our children. We made them. They changed our lives. They did not ruin our lives. I just want to make that clear at the outset.
And yet, we made a book in which we make apparent claims about the things that children represent. Which is midnight waking. Which is unwelcome smells. Which is stained shirts and diaper genies and tiny plastic objects on the floor. Which is change.
We made this book a long time ago. So long ago we almost forgot it existed. Robbi and I have spent a decade making books that we finish writing and illustrating the day before we put them in an envelope and send them out into the world.
But in the real word of publishing, you finish making a book and then you wait for a year while wise people skillfully try to sell it and promote it to bookstores and librarians and such. In the meantime, the author and the illustrator sit around yearning and wondering what the book will actually look like. Or else they instead make a bunch of other books and forget about that book entirely.
This forgetting is what happened to Robbi and me. We are busy working on at least five projects. But then, today, a package arrived. The return address suggested the package was from our publisher, mighty Macmillan.
I immediately started weeping. I have been waiting more than 41 years to open a package containing my first commercial children’s book. The weeping was not planned, but neither was it unexpected.
I felt the contents with my hand. I was able to confirm that the book was inside. But there was other stuff, too. For the sake of escalating excitement, we started with the other stuff.
It was a guide for librarians, introducing them to the new Mac Kids lineup for the new season. Babies Ruin Everything was among the Other Featured Titles.
After admiring the librarian’s guide for as long as we could stand it, I reached into the envelope again.
It was time for the main event. The book itself. Of course, I pulled it out upside down and backwards.
But soon I righted the ship. And had my first look. More weeping commenced. It was one of those moments you only get once in life. Or not at all. I am lucky indeed.
Robbi, true to her anti-establishment roots, promptly ripped off the dust jacket to admire the “case” cover. This is publishing speak for “the actual cover of the book”.
We took approximately 50 pictures of ourself with the book before we found one we liked enough to share with you. But here we are with the new arrival. We love how it looks.
And we’re pretty sure it’s going to sleep through the night.
Every time we’ve completed the first copy of an Idiots’Book or Bobbledy Book over the years, we sign and date it. And this time was no exception.
When Alden got home from school, we let her be the first person to read it cover to cover. There may be nothing more satisfying than hearing your kid read your book aloud.
Unless it’s the opportunity to dedicate the book to the kid in question.
Here’s a closer look at the dedication panel. Robbi managed to get it all in.
The frame in the lower left shows our house in Alaska. The tryptic shows a crown for Alden, a rocketship for Kato, and August with his hero/idol Mickey Mouse. The building in the frame on the right is the barn.
And these two. What can we say? The drawing is a total lie. Our babies have done nothing but bring riches and joy (with occasional odor and squealing and plastic objects for good measure).
These two books in our hands are among a small handful of copies that have rolled off the presses so far. The rest of them are still being printed. The book officially release in July, but if you are as excited as we are (or even fractionally so), you can order an advance copy here. It is, apparently, very good for a book to sell a bunch of advance copies, so if you are thinking that you are going to eventually buy a copy, by all means, don’t hold back.