It's picture book time again on Jester Harley's Manuscript Page. Please welcome. Allyn M. Stotz and her incredible sinking hippo.
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Starting With the Title
by Allyn M. Stotz
I love a good hippo story, don’t you? Why are these creatures so cute and yet so big, weird-looking, bald, and intimidating? I think it’s for these reasons that we adults find them fascinating and kids find them cute and funny. Adults want to know how to avoid them whereas kids want to know if they
When I sat down to write Hippo Bottomless, I knew I wanted to write about a hippo but that’s about all I was sure of. So just like I’ve done so many times in the past, I started picking my pea-sized brain for titles of the book first. I thought Hippo Bottomless was a funny name and would grab people’s attention and possibly give them a chuckle. I discovered after writing The Pea in Peanut Butter that the title of a book can make a huge difference in whether or not someone is interested in taking a peek.
Once I was sold on the title, I began writing down different scenarios for what might happen in the book. Would the hippo have a huge appetite and eat everything in sight, therefore everyone teased him about being a bottomless pit? Or would the hippo have some kind of problem with keeping his shorts up? I tried both of these possibilities but neither was working.
Then a writer friend of mine told me that her daughter is obsessed with hippos. So I thought it would be fun to challenge her daughter by giving her my title and letting her come up with an idea for the story. I promised if her idea worked and I got my book published, I’d thank her in the book. And luckily, her idea worked! The minute I started writing about a hippo who couldn’t swim, the words just flowed on the computer screen and Hippo Bottomless was born. And my book became that much more special… at least to me.
When writing for kids, the more you can get them involved, the better the story. Although my little helper didn’t help me write the story, she came up with the idea and without that, Hippo Bottomless might still be sitting in my “To be finished” book folder.
Writing a children’s book might seem easy to those who have never written one and gotten it published but trust me when I say, it’s difficult and there’s a lot involved. Including research. Yes, even though I was writing fiction about a hippo, it still had to be believable and accurate. It was during my research that I realized hippos can’t really swim. They just basically run on the bottom while keeping their heads above water. That’s why you don’t see a herd of hippos out in deep water. So with that knowledge, I decided to incorporate the message to never give up because most times things aren’t always as they appear.
Poor Echo the Hippo kept trying to swim, but even with some training from friends along the way, he could still only manage to splash, splash, splash as he sank, sank, sank to the cold, murky bottom.
You’ll have to read the book to see if Echo ever achieves the ability to swim along with his other Hippo friends.
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You can purchase an autographed copy of Hippo Bottomless by contacting Allyn M. Stotz at firstname.lastname@example.org or through her blog.
You can also purchase Hippo Bottomless on Amazon.