Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thought #156

Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead, is a story of patience. It is also a story of paying it forward. And it is a story of creativity and friendship. All of this is true of the picture book itself. But it is also true of the creative process behind the picture book. Here’s why.

“The more I tried to write, the less I wrote,” Julie Fogliano confessed during her acceptance speech at the 2012 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards last Friday night, September 28, 2012. It was the kickoff to a two-day celebration of speeches and a colloquium, held at Simmons College in Boston. Fogliano and Erin E. Stead received an honor citation in the Picture Book category for their book And Then It’s Spring.
From And Then It's Spring

Fogliano had been trying to write since 1988. The breakthrough came with a request from her friend George O’Connor, fellow bookseller alum from New York City’s Books of Wonder, and an accomplished writer and artist in his own right (The Olympians series). O’Connor asked Fogliano if, for his birthday, she would email him one thought per day. Most thoughts had to do with legos on the kitchen floor and pancakes for breakfast, according to Fogliano. But Thought #156, she says, “about waiting and the color brown,” was different. She liked it enough to also send it to her friend Erin Stead, another Books of Wonder alum.

Erin Stead, whose husband, Philip Stead, had secretly shown one of Erin’s drawings to his editor, Neal Porter (which resulted in their first collaboration, A Sick Day for Amos McGee), now paid the favor forward. Erin sent Thought #156 to Porter and said she would like to illustrate it. And the seeds of And Then It’s Spring (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook/Macmillan), illustrated by Erin E. Stead, were planted.

But what does that have to do with Bear Has a Story to Tell, you might ask. I shall tell you. Philip and Erin share a studio. “Philip did much of the designing” of And Then It’s Spring, Erin Stead says. When Philip saw this drawing of the bears for Fogliano’s book (above), he scurried off to write Erin a bear book. Bear Has a Story to Tell.

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