Writers at Work: Wait for It, Part 2

Hi everyone,

It’s my turn today with Part 2 of WRITERS AT WORK: WAIT FOR IT! Please remember to share with either of us via e-mail any similar experiences you’ve had with resuscitating an oldie in your files and finding a home for it after all. We’ll share as many as we can on the final Tuesday of this Month. Here’s the link again for the collected series of WRITERS AT WORK. http://usawrites4kids.blogspot.com

October 10, 2017
Writers at Work: Wait for It
Part 2: David

Well, Sandy, you’re younger than I so I hope you’ll forgive me for having a story that tops your 18 years by three. But my tale is slightly different from yours so we may both claim the title in separate divisions.

I made my first trip to New York City for an editorial visit in 1969, the same year my first children’s book was published. Forty-eight years later I can look back on many such trips, but that first one led me to write THE BOOK OF GIANT STORIES.

From March through April, 1969 I wrote three stories in forty-seven days for the collection: The Secret, Little Boy Soup, and The Giant Who Threw Tantrums. When the stories were sent to the artist, Philippe Fix, he had an idea for his own story to add. I said no to that but agreed to write the story he wanted to illustrate, which I called, The Giant Who was Afraid of Butterflies. I didn’t realize until it was too late that Little Boy Soup had been pulled from the group and replaced by the butterfly story.

I couldn’t complain. I loved my editor, the book was gorgeous, it won a Christopher Medal, and contracts for translations started pouring in – from Denmark, Japan, Italy, Africa, Finland, Germany, and half a dozen others. But what was I to do with the single story, Little Boy Soup? I guess I didn’t know. According to my records, I never sent it anywhere else to see about placing it as a picture book on its own. Maybe my contract prevented me from publishing another giant story at the time. That was long ago and I don’t remember.

In 1988 I finally sent Little Boy Soup to my friend Ronne Peltzman, who had become the children’s editor for Ladybird Press in Loughbourough, England. The picture book was published in 1990, twenty-one years after I wrote it.

As we all know, Sandy, these late bloomers sometimes come with additional rewards. In 1989 my Sandy and I took a trip to England and while we were there I caught a train to Loughbourough to see Ronne. Another U.S. visitor was at Ladybird that day and we were introduced. Christine San Jose explained that she worked with Kent Brown at Highlights. When I told her I’d been focusing on poetry the past three years, she urged me to send my work to Kent because he was starting a book publishing division called Boyds Mills Press and one of the imprints, given entirely to poetry, was Wordsong.

The story of my growth as a poet as Wordsong grew is a tale for another time. The point here is that a story that lingered in my files for nearly as long as it takes an infant to be born, grow up, and graduate from college finally made it into print. Between 1969 and 1990, I left my position as editorial manager at Hallmark Cards in Kansas City to become president of Glenstone Block Company in Springfield, Missouri. In 1969 I had published two books. By 1990 I’d published thirty-nine. In 1969 I had a nine-year-old daughter and a five-year-old son. In 1990 my children were college graduates. Sandy and I had our first grandson. Sandy had left her teaching job in Kansas City, earned her master’s degree in guidance and counseling, and become a high school counselor in Springfield.

Could I have written Little Boy Soup in 1990 the same way I did twenty-one years earlier? Impossible. I don’t know if a later version would have been better or worse, but it would certainly have been different as a reflection of all the changes in my life during those years. What I can say for sure is that I’m glad I hung onto the story that got squeezed out of THE BOOK OF GIANT STORIES!

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16 comments on “Writers at Work: Wait for It, Part 2

  1. What a great story, David! Did I know Little Boy Soup had been published before? I don’t think so, but it certainly didn’t matter – it’s a great story. I am still delighted that your visit to Loughborough all those years ago was such a fruitful one.

    • Good morning, my friend! Thank you once again for giving LITTLE BOY SOUP a chance to reach young people. It remains one of my favorite stories and I wish it were still in print today. I just checked Amazon.com to see if there are still copies around. There are and they range from $16.97 to $145.48. A real steal! (:>

    • That trip was a life changer, Ronne. Sandy Asher and I are thinking that our next series of WRITERS AT WORK might be about “Being There.” Sometimes good luck happens because we make it happen. My experience in Loughborough would be an example.

  2. Loved your story this morning! Thanks for sharing!

    I’m off to sub in an elementary library today. Maybe, if I have a few extra minutes, I’ll see if I can find any of your books in the library!

    Hugs!
    Susan

  3. Not as much as was predicted – probably 5-6 inches. We had that much last Monday, as well. This will melt off quickly. We had to make a vet run to Laramie yesterday afternoon with one of our corgis – roads were clear and dry most of the way.

  4. It was actually our oldest corgi, Dakota, who is now nine years old. He had an allergic reaction to something. His face was swollen and it almost looked as if he’d had a stroke! (one eye really sagging) He seems better this morning – yay!

    PS – check the WOM page!

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