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.
We still have a scene that takes place in Alaska. But now, instead of a moose and grizzly bear, we have seals and sockeye.
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.
A book about the scandal of particularity — somewhere, Binks Little is proud!
Hello! I just picked up the book today at Barnes & Noble in Falls Church, VA. Will gift it at a baby shower tomorrow.
As I was standing in B&N turning to page two in the book, I said aloud: “This is such a great book!” Intrigued, I turned to the back fold to see who you were and found that you all reside in MD, and have your own printing press! Now, I look forward to checking out your other work and sharing with my friends. (Particularly my pregnant friends. Something’s in the water…)
Speaking of, I suspect you are well into your own pregnancy and I send my best wishes for you all.
Many thanks for supporting our work and for your kind message. Yes, we are indeed Marylanders, Robbi by birth and I by long-term squatting. The aforementioned pregnancy has reached its logical conclusion. The result, Jasper, has been a gratifying sort of person so far. Sleeping well, smiling frequently, and distracting his older siblings with recreational babysitting events. We have zero complaints. Thanks again for reaching out. With any luck, we’ll connect with you again, either on paper or otherwise.
Looks very similar to a book created by a creative and passionate author I know, in some cases, page for page, and was actually published in 2014!
….I’m curious as to what inspired you to create this particular children’s book?…. since, quote: “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.”
Thanks for commenting. I was inspired to write Everywhere, Wonder (though the first title was In Egypt, There are Pyramids) by the abundance of beautiful things to be found in the world and the limited opportunity that most of us get to experience them. The idea was to first establish and share the grand and difficult -to-obtain wonders and then to pivot the narrative so that the kid/reader could see that many of the same virtues of beauty and wonder could also be derived from a careful and attentive observation and appreciation of one’s own surround. The idea that wonder is less about scale and distance and more about the reverence of the viewer.
We would be curious to know the title of this other book you reference, if you’d be willing to share.
Thanks again for checking in!
Oh, I am so twitting this to my moms and dads. We’ve reviewed it like last
night night time, and on this page I go stumbling when the information. A high quality
Dear Matthew and Robbi,
Thanks for creating the book everywhere, wonder. I am an arts integration coach and early childhood educator that goes around and teaches teachers and children to use their “lookers” and become wonderers. This books is perfect for that foundation I am trying to create in children and adults. I have a presentation to a faculty tomorrow on Taking books for a walk ( art and literature integration) and I am reading this book to them as it goes perfect with teaching how kids need to gather information, pictures and words by paying attention to detail to the world around them. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am excited for what more you have to give to the picture book world! Keep it up!
a picture book lover-artist and teacher
Apologies for taking so long to get back to you. Your job and your presentation sound so perfectly matched for our book! We’re delighted that you found it and so glad that you are putting it to use exactly as we had hoped it would be used. Robbi and I have put together a companion booklet called “My Book of Wonder.” It contains prompts that spur kids to write down and illustrate the beautiful and interesting places and things they observe in their world. Send me your email address, and I’ll send you a PDF of it to print out and use in your teaching and presentations. Thank you for reaching out! And for your kind words about our book.
Yesteday, I was trolling through the picture books and there was everywhere, wonder! Full disclosure, I was buying the book simply becase the main character appeared to by a brown-skinned kid. Standing in line at the register, I opened the book and found that little boy was The character. May be I should buy two copies . . . Not until this morning waiting for my tea to steep did I actually read the book. Wowzer! Now I really can’t wait to read this book to the kids at the Headstart next fall. Yep, I should have bought two copies. In fact, I think this book may be visiting a few families I know soon.
Thank you for a delightful, thought provoking and encouraging book Mathew. Robbi simple thanks doesn’t seem to be enough for making a brown skinned young man the object of such lovely, mind expanding watecolors but will have to suffice. Thank you.
Nice Robbi and Matthew….!!
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