Thursday, February 11, 2010

A BOX of BEARS: The Story Behind The Story

Written by: Mariam D. Pineno Illustrated by: Martha Pineno-Hess

I can do better than that. What children’s writer hasn’t thought, if not said it? Exactly how I felt on reading the free book accompanying the plush toy-of-the-year. I didn’t like the cover and I objected to the title. A confusing half-dozen or more character names began with the same letter. The story ending suggested the inappropriate child behavior of keeping a secret from Mother. But I had already bought the toys for a classroom gift from invited December Author.

After I’d explained my feelings about the commercial story this was one first-grader’s question on politely raising his hand: “Why did you buy it if you didn’t like it?” Good question.

“It was free,” I said, “and you can’t always judge a book by its cover!” But I admitted I do.

For the first and second-grade classes, I’d written my own story about toy bears without any relation to the original. It was too long for their attention level, but well-received anyway. Then I worked on and off for years on revisions and cuts to suit a young-reader picture book format.

And when my professional artist/daughter Marti said yes, our fourth collaboration was launched. It didn’t exactly crash, but keeping it afloat for a couple of years was our biggest book challenge yet. Know any artist who thinks white-on-white is easy? Doubtful.

More than once we hoped our book might be marketed in time for holiday shoppers. 2009 is the year for reality. A BOX of BEARS’ bright, beautiful acrylic illustrations will bring the joy of giving right into the heart and home of every lucky reader. Its evergreen theme defies shelf-life conventions for holiday books.

And I truly believe. I did better.

Thanks for reading my stories,
Mariam D. Pineno

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