A Snail is Born

Today is the official publication date for SNIPPET THE EARLY RISER, my new picture book. The reviews so far have been very positive, including a fun review from Michael Ian Black in this week's New York Times. The NYT review is a first for me, and as a previous NYC dweller who religiously pored over the NYT Book Review every Sunday, it is an especially lovely gift.

In the past, I've blogged about the inspiration for my books (or more accurately, the "special" kind of crazy that is my thought process), and once again, I am back to ramble. The idea for this book was born 3 years ago when my early risers were having quite an impact on my life. (And my coffee consumption.) It's rough on both sides of that fence, though. Yes, there was adult sleep deprivation, but think of the poor kids -- what a monumental job it is to rouse a large, immovable lump from bed.

I started to think about characters. I wanted to use animals—lazy animals. Sloths? Pigs? My sketchbook has many pages of options, but as soon as I began sketching snails, I knew I had my characters. Just think of the difficult job a poor young snail has in trying to coax sleeping parents from their impenetrable shells!

After the character decision was made came the fun of thinking about snails and their daily lives. They do present some unique challenges, given their lack of hands, arms, and legs. What does a young snail do for fun? That was the question. One day as I was hiking, I found my answer. (I actually went home, grabbed my camera, and went back to take this photo...so excited was I about the idea...and so certain that someday, I would want it as evidence.)

It was abundantly clear to me that the snail who left this trail had either eaten too many fermented leaves or was simply having fun, expressing himself—doing snail donuts, shall we say? Making drawings? Clearly, he was not in a hurry to get anywhere. Perhaps he was daydreaming as he wandered about. As soon as I began to think of snails as creative creatures, the story took shape.

Many thanks to the people who shepherded this story on its road to publication: Mary Kole, Joanne Taylor, Michele Burke, and Sarah Hokanson.

Please visit my website to view the trailer and learn more about the book.