Today I’m putting some final touches on my virtual program for tomorrow morning as part of Park University’s “Pirates Read” event. I’ve chosen to discuss and read one of my very first books for children, LITTLE TURTLE’S BIG ADVENTURE, which was published by Random House in 1969, the same year THE BOY WITH A DRUM came out. It makes a good read aloud because it’s about a small turtle that loses its home to road construction and must set out in search of a new place to live. Mr. Green Jeans read it on Captain Kangaroo’s TV show the year it was released. I think it’s time to bring it back.
I remember a day after the book was published when I made one of my first of what became an annual visit to New York to meet with editors, and I went by Random House. In those days their headquarters were in an ornate old building, can’t remember the address, but it was a great place to visit. Bennett Cerf was still publisher but died a couple of years after my book came out. His son Chris was there, editor to Ted Geisel among others. I met Chris but not Dr. Seuss. My editor got me seated and sent for the young assistant who had picked my story out of the “slush” pile. I had mailed my manuscript without an agent or contact or even a name on the envelope. It was strictly an “over the transom” submission and the odds of it being chosen were like winning the lottery. When the assistant came into the office, she was thrilled to meet me. I was the very first person she had ever “discovered” and to her it was a huge deal. It wasn’t until that moment when I realized how naïve I had been and how very fortunate I was.