Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Life and Death and Life of Toby

Last night I read Toby and the Snowflakes to my two-year-old daughter for the first time.  For those who don't know, Toby is my first published book.  It's a picture book about a boy whose best friend moves away, and he finds solace in the friendly snowflakes that fall.  It is also illustrated by my husband, Matthew Cordell.  A very important book for both of us.  Our only book together.  My only picture book.  The book that started it all, really.  It was surreal to read it to my daughter.  Matt and I started the book before we were married, albeit we were living together.  I remember the day we got the phone call that it would be published-- we were leaving the next day for Italy, Matt's first overseas trip.  You want to know how much they paid us?  I'll just say that together, meaning for both me and Matt, we received less than either of us has received individually on a book since.  We didn't have an agent, we didn't negotiate, and we took it.  Without much push (why should Houghton Mifflin push a book they paid peanuts for?), the book didn't sell very well (although it did receive a starred review in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books) and tragically went into remainder recently.  (Upside?  We were able to buy as many of the several hundred copies for about 80 cents each.)  I hadn't read the book in a while, so it was fun to revisit my work.  It's a great book.  It's sweet and funny and a little sad and definitely pays homage to my beloved snow.  I'm curious to know what Matt would say about the artwork, since I know it's hard for him to look back at his different styles.  Romy was incredibly curious about the book- there was a "What's that?" on every page, which isn't her usual listening style.  At the end of the book is a picture of me, Matt, and our cat, Tobin.  You can find the picture here on Amazon if you click on the "Look Inside" feature.  The first thing Romy said when she saw it?  "Tobin!"  I hope Romy will add it to her pile of preferred books someday.  And I hope Matt and I will again work together on a book.  Writing picture books isn't easy.  I mean, it is easy to just sit down and write one, but it isn't easy to write one that doesn't suck.  Even though Toby was banished to the remainder pile, I can say with confidence that it definitely doesn't suck.

7 comments:

Brian James said...

It's so hard watch a book be uncared about by the people you trust it with...been there. And I remember the book when it came out and it certainly doesn't suck.

Julie H said...

It is hard, Brian. Sniff sniff. And thank you!

nissa said...

We own a copy--and my kids love it!

Julie H said...

Thanks, Niss! Maybe I'll see you before our kids go off to college :)

Heather said...

I have a copy. My kids have enjoyed it.

A fan said...

Have a copy, I enjoy it and so do the children in my hallway at work. It's adorable to watch little ones as they read it and wish for snow.

Julie H said...

Thanks, Heather and a fan! It's nice to know Toby lives on.