Saturday, February 7, 2009

Unlucky Leprechaun

You did a school visit in Upper Saddle River this past week and worked with about 150 of the nicest and sweetest 7th graders ever. What a delight these kids were, all full of fun and interest. They nicknamed you the Stassinator.

While you were in one of the classrooms you noticed that your latest Tardy Boys book, Is That An Unlucky Leprechaun in Your Lunch? is being featured in the March offering from Scholastic’s Arrow book club (and inside, Help! I’m Trapped in Obedience School is being bundled with funny books from two other authors).

You think it might be instructive, or even interesting, for readers to see how a book cover evolves.

First, of course, it begins with the book. Scholastic had asked for a Tardy Boys book that could be set in March, so St. Patrick’s Day seemed like a logical holiday to focus on. Not that every Tardy Boys book focuses on a holiday, but you seem to recall that there was some reason why they wanted this one to be.

You were out in Ohio at the time, (or maybe it was Rochester, NY) and mentioned this to several librarians. One suggested Unlucky Leprechaun, which sounded like fun, especially since you knew absolutely nothing about Irish mythology.

Then, through the spring and early summer, you wrote the book while learning about the origins of leprechauns, sleeping giants, dullahans, and other strange stuff from Irish Myhtology (boy, do the Irish have a lot of mythology!). You also got to learn about silver iodide, cloud seeding, and photochemical smog.

In addition, you were able to include an amusing hand washing sign you found in a lavatory in a school in Rochester, NY (or maybe it was Ohio). Has anyone ever stopped to wonder why we hate and fear bacteria (germs) as much as we do? Could it have something to do with certain large companies’ need to sell us every possible kind of soap, detergent, deodorant, cleaner, and anti-bacterial evertything imaginable?

Anyway, it was not the easiest Tardy Boys book you ever wrote. There were lots of false starts, detours, wrong turns, and flat tires. But finally, with the aide of freshly-washed toe notes, and the help of some well-known Greek and British philosopher-baseball players, you found your way.
Shortly after you finished the manuscript, two sketches arrived with a note from your editor:

Todd - Attached are two cover sketches for Unlucky Leprechaun. We like the first one, in which the boy and Leprechaun are facing forward. In the e-mail below are my notes to the illustrator. I think it looks great!

Here are your comments in an e-mail back to your editor: Thanks for the look. I agree on the first one. I agree that the Leprechaun should have smaller ears. He looks like a donkey. His ears should stand up. Perhaps through holes in the brim of his hat? Please give him a pointy beard. I'm sending you some art.

Here’s the art you sent (Your idea of what a Leprechaun should look like even without the pointy beard).

I think your next book should be, Is That A Handsome Minotaur Driving Your Bentley?

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