I’ve often been asked where I get my ideas for my children’s books. They surface from strange places.
In February, I received an unusual birthday gift from a friend – a fluffy yellow bookworm with big, googly eyes. My friend said, “I think this should be the character for your next children’s book.” He WAS adorable but what was his story?
I did some research and learned that the scientific name for bookworms is Anobium Punctatum. An-o-bi-um Punct-a-tum! I liked the sound of it but would a five-year-old think it was a fun name? Baby bookworms eat the pulpy paper in books, then morph into wood beetles who drill holes in trees and furniture. How could that cute, yellow creature with the big eyes destroy books??? Ah, ha! I had my story. My bookworm would want to read the books, not eat them. My fingers couldn’t fly across the keys fast enough. Buddy and Ballerina would be the main characters and they would save the library books.
When I sent the finished story off to my publisher at High Tide Publications, she said it was, “supercalifragilisticexpealidosious.” She also had a great idea, “Let’s ask your granddaughters (Adaline, age 10 and Emma, age 7) to illustrate it.” The girls’ teacup drawings had been the inspiration for my second children’s book, Revolt of the Teacups and they were listed on the back cover as “Illustrators in Training.”Why not give them full rein and see what happens? So that’s where we are. They have the script and I’m trying to keep my expectations under control as I wait for their drawings. I’m hoping the book will be out before Christmas, 2018. Stay tuned for updates.
My first children’s book, Herman the Hermit Crab and the Mystery of the Big, Black Shiny Thingalso evolved from an interesting story. My husband, Don, and I liked to vacation on a tiny island in the British Virgin Islands, called Cooper Island. The resort consisted of six small cottages, an open-air restaurant, some wild goats, and the most beautiful clear, blue water we’d ever seen. One morning, an oil bottle washed up on the beach where we were searching for seashells. We carried it back to the cottage and left it by the steps for maintenance to pick up. When we left the cottage that night to walk to dinner, the black bottle was surrounded by hermit crabs, dragging their shell houses to form a circle around the mysterious “thing.” The next morning, they were still there, in larger numbers, worshipping at the “shrine of the oil bottle.”
I wrote the story of Herman and his hermit crab friends that day as a surprise for my grandchildren, hoping someday it would become a book. Later, when I held that book in my hands for the first time, it reinforced my strong belief that dreams can come true if you want them badly enough and are willing to work for them.
Sharon Canfield Dorsey is an award-winning poet and author of two children’s books, a memoir, Daughter of the Mountains, and a book of poetry, Tapestry. Her poems are also included in an anthology, Captured Moments.