DAY 3 OF THE ZOE VOTE – WHAT HAPPENED TO PLUTO?

Yesterday’s post covered the background and writing process of THE HAIR OF ZOE FLEEFENBACHER GOES TO SCHOOL. It took, um…. years to write the book and have it published. (I point this out to anyone who is just joining the field of children’s literature and thinks they have a great picture book idea that will make them eight million dollars in time for Christmas.)

In the critical scene of ZOE, the teacher is trying to demonstrate how the planets in our solar system revolve around the sun. In the early drafts of the book, there were nine planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.

Then – while Ard Hoyt was working on his preliminary sketches – Pluto was demoted.

Time for another revision!

I thought about making a scientific political statement, like asking Ard to draw in a poster in Ms. Trisk’s classroom that said something like "Bring back Pluto!", but wiser heads prevailed.

ZOE STILL NEEDS YOUR HELP AND YOUR DAILY VOTE!!

I’m not quite sure how JUMP! is in the lead in this contest because it is not supposed to be published until March 2010. Maybe Scott M. Fischer knows more people than I do. Maybe he has a secret league of great-aunties who have enlisted all of the women from their bridge clubs and canasta leagues and hair parlors do vote for his book.

Zoe only has you.

YOU can put ZOE in a cheerios cereal box. Here’s how:

HOW TO VOTE:

1. Go to the voting page.

2. In the bottom right corner, click on MORE BOOKS twice. (Yes, this is the tricky part. No, I don’t know why Zoe is buried at the absolute back of the pack. Kind of makes you feel sorry for her, huh?) That will take you to ZOE.

3. Click on the yellow box that says VOTE!

4. Notify all of your friends, neighbors, family members, the folks at church or temple or mosque or other house of faith, the rest of the PTA, the people at the firehouse, everyone in your classroom, and tell them all pretty, pretty please with a headful of unruly red hair, PLEASE VOTE FOR ZOE.

5. Do this every day until the end of October.

 

TOMORROW: A LESSON IN PICTURE BOOK WRITING

 

DAY 2 OF THE ZOE VOTE – HOW THE BOOK BEGAN

Thank you! Thank you! Because you and your friends, cats, dogs, and cubicle mates voted for Zoe yesterday, she appears to be sitting in third place in the contest to win a spot in a million boxes of Cheerios. The contest goes to the end of the month, so I’m going to blog about the writing process of the book every day.

Where did the idea for Zoe come from?

My family room.

I have one daughter, Stephanie, who was born with lovely red hair. I have another daughter, Meredith, who has a rather energetic personality.

Out of a strange melding of these two girls came the idea for ZOE: a child born with a quarter acre of crazy red hair that had a personality of its own.

In the early drafts, the story wasn’t quite a story. It turned out that just having cool hair was not enough. This explained the rejections I received for the book in the mid 1990’s. (The story was VERY DIFFERENT from its current form!) When a rejection would come in, I’d pout, and keep tinkering with it.

Both of my girls went off to kindergarten and then first grade. Meredith’s exuberant personality was not appreciated by all of her teachers. When Meredith was identified as ADHD, we were confused. It didn’t feel right to force our child into something she was not made to be. But clearly she had to learn to adapt to a classroom setting. What to do?

With this personal drama unfolding in the background, I continued to edit and rewrite Zoe’s story. I added the somewhat intimidating character of Ms. Trisk and clarified the conflict: Zoe has to learn to follow the rules of first grade. But that makes her sad.

My daughter Meredith, meanwhile, was growing up. She was blessed with a couple OF teachers who really valued her qualities and personality. Meredith learned how to adapt to a school setting. The school learned to adapt to her. And I finally figured out how to write Zoe.

An editor I sent it to loved it, but said that too many "hair books" had just come out, and he wanted to hold on to it for a bit. About five years later, he called me up and said the time had come. The world was waiting for Zoe.

And my daughter?

She was so inspired by the teachers who respected who she was and helped her figure out her own leaning style, that she became an education major in college. She graduated in May and is now an 8th grade science teacher working near the Pennsylvania/Maryland border.

THE HAIR OF ZOE FLEEFENBACHER GOES TO SCHOOL is dedicated to my daughter Meredith.


HOW TO VOTE:

1. Go to the voting page.

2. In the bottom right corner, click on MORE BOOKS twice. That will take you to ZOE.

3. Click on the yellow box that says VOTE!

4. Notify all of your friends, neighbors, family members, the folks at church or temple or mosque or other house of faith, the rest of the PTA, the people at the firehouse, everyone in your classroom, and tell them all pretty, pretty please with a headful of unruly red hair, PLEASE VOTE FOR ZOE.

5. Do this every day until the end of October.

TOMORROW: ZOE HAS A PROBLEM WITH PLUTO

VOTE FOR ZOE!!!

And now for something completely different…. (with apologies to Monty Python)

For the next two weeks, we here in the Forest are going to take a temporary break from the weighty topics of the day like censorship and the American Revolution. (Fear not, I promise to return to them with renewed vigor after the end of the month!)

For the next two weeks, we are going to talk about, write about, dream about and VOTE FOR ZOE!!!

THE HAIR OF ZOE FLEEFENBACHER GOES TO SCHOOL – which will just be shortened to ZOE for the next two weeks – is a silly, wonderful story about a first grade girl who has hair that can do incredible things… including getting her in trouble. It’s a book about the need to honor children for who they are, instead of forcing them to fit into prefabricated boxes. It’s also a story about learning how to compromise and why rules are important.

AND… it has illustrations by the amazing Ard Hoyt!

Zoe might wind up inside a box of Cheerios. Actually, if she gets enough votes, ZOE will wind up inside about one million cereal boxes!!! How cool is that? A kid sits down to breakfast and winds up with a book!!!

BUT ZOE NEEDS YOUR HELP!!

There are 13 books competing for the 5 finalist positions. All of the five finalists will wind up in the cereal boxes. You vote once a day for the next two weeks for your favorite five, which I sure as heck hopes includes our girl, ZOE.

HOW TO VOTE:

1. Go to the voting page.

2. In the bottom right corner, click on MORE BOOKS twice. That will take you to ZOE.

3. Click on the yellow box that says VOTE!

4. Notify all of your friends, neighbors, family members, the folks at church or temple or mosque or other house of faith, the rest of the PTA, the people at the firehouse, everyone in your classroom, and tell them all pretty, pretty please with a headful of unruly red hair, PLEASE VOTE FOR ZOE.

5. Do this every day until the end of October.

I will be blogging all about the writing and publication process of ZOE for the next two weeks. And Ard Hoyt has sent me a note that I’ll post explaining what the process was like for him. So the next two weeks at this blog will be one part tutorial in picture book creation, three parts silliness, and seven parts encouraging people to please, please, please vote for Zoe.

I also need help coming up with a fun, outrageous thing to do if ZOE wins. Any suggestions?

TOMORROW: The Idea For Zoe