Friday, February 11, 2011

Why the Tardy Boys is NOT a Series

There are five Tardy Boys books, but the Tardy Boys is not a series. This is not the first time I’ve written a not-a-series for readers in grades 3-5. I once wrote a 17-book not-a-series even though each book began with Help! I’m Trapped in… and the same characters appeared in each book.

When I asked my publisher why it wasn’t a series, I was told, “because the books aren’t numbered.”

I had to rewrite the first book in the Tardy Boys not-a-series about 150,000 times. Every time Ithough the book was done, my publisher would read it and tell me all the things that were wrong with it. For instance, originally I wanted to call the main characters the Pardy Boys, but my publisher said no because Pardy Boys implied something they didn’t feel was appropriate. I never found out exactly what.

The funny thing is that, while at the time I was pretty annoyed with my publisher’s seemingly arbitrary decisions, in retrospect I can see why they objected. Here is a VERY partial list

of the things my publisher said no to. Some I now agree with; some I still don’t.

1) Placing the Magic Toilet Bowl inside the Mysterious Toilet Stall at The School With No Name and sending the Pardy Boys back in time whenever they pulled a sheet from the Phantom Toilet Stall Dispenser.

2) Having the Pardy Boys travel back to the Revolutionary War to meet Timmy Meeker, Sarah Bishop, Johnny Tremain, and Willy Freeman.

3) Having Johnny Tremain put down Timmy Meeker because Johnny’s book won the Newbery Medal whi

le Timmy’s book only won a Newbery Honor, and having Timmy put down Sarah Bishop because her book only won something called the Hans Christian Andersen Award.

4) Having Timmy Meeker, Sarah Bishop, Johnny Tremain, and Willy Freeman all put down the Pardy Boys because their book was only a paperback original and never won a single award.

5) Having the Pardy Boys have the last laugh because Timmy Meeker, Sarah Bishop, Johnny Tremain, and Willy Freeman were stuck using chamber pots until they realized that they were stuck using chamber pots, too because it would be 97 years later when Dr. Thomas Crapper (this is no joke, that was his real name) invented the flush toilet.

9) How the Germans say no.

If I ever write a series for middle-grade students again, I’ll probably have the same sorts of disagreements, but next time I’ll keep in mind that given some perspective, things we think are funny might not always be that way.

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