Science fiction for children? Yes, please. We definitely need more of that. Today Rob Sanders talks about the big adventure he wrote in a little book called Outer Space Bedtime Race. (Seriously, can you pack any more fun into a title?!)
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Tucking Kids into the Whole Solar System
by Rob Sanders
I am so pleased to share the story behind the creation of my new book OUTER SPACE BEDTIME RACE, illustrated by Brian Won. Our book was recently released by Random House Children’s Books. Brian and I are both grateful to our editor, Maria Modugno, and our art director, John Sazaklis, for their incredible work and support.
My vision for this book began when I had the idea to create a bedtime story that my great nieces AND great nephews would love and wanted to have read over and over again. I wanted to create something that wasn’t pink and sweet and butterfly-filled. I wanted something edgy and active and maybe even a tad creepy. Something different, but something that would still get kids ready for bed.
Honestly, my great nieces (like many girl readers) are easy to please and just love books in general. But my great-nephew, Jack, well that’s a different story. I knew if I could come up with something that Jack liked, his sisters would like it, too. I made a quick list of topics with boy-appeal: robots, monsters, dinosaurs, aliens. Aliens! Immediately the idea of an alien getting ready for bed stood out, and as I researched the market I couldn’t find any bedtime books with or about aliens. Now I don’t want you to think this was a long, drawn out process. This whole process occurred in an hour or so. Then the real work began.
My first stab at a manuscript followed one alien through his bedtime routine. As I explored that idea I couldn’t decide if Jupiter or Mars or Saturn or another planet might provide the most story and illustration possibilities. When I couldn’t decide which planet to focus on, I did what any reasonable person would do—I decided to use all the planets and explore a different bedtime activity on each planet. Since my story was focusing on earth kids going to bed, I knew I wanted to start the story on earth and circle back around—or orbit—back to earth.
I soon decided that rhyming was the best mode for telling the story since it would add to the bedtime appeal of the manuscript. I started listing planets, bedtime routines, and words and phrases that would add life to my crew of bedtime aliens. I also started researching non-fiction facts about the planets that I could write into back matter for the book. As a teacher, I know how parents, teachers, librarians, and kids love those tidbits of fact that often accompany a story.
After a few drafts and taking the manuscript to my critique groups, I fired it off to my agent, Rubin Pfeffer. Rubin gave some suggestions for revisions and we worked back and forth a bit. Rubin decide to submit exclusively to Maria Modugno. She quickly took the manuscript to acquisitions and within a few weeks we had a deal. Brian Won was soon brought on as the illustrator. Maria and I worked for several weeks via phone and email examining and revising the manuscript line-by-line. From ideation to research to writing, revising, editing, illustrating, and printing the entire process has taken right at two years.
OUTER SPACE BEDTIME RACE has been released and is soaring out of book stores! Brian and I are enjoying launching our book in book stores and libraries, creating resources to support the book, and promoting our book in various ways. As a matter of fact, you can view our book trailer to get a taste of outer space bedtime adventure.
Now all that I have left to do is to give Jack, Madi, Libby and their new brother, Lincoln, their copy of OUTER SPACE BEDTIME RACE!
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