Hi, Miriam Busch! Hi, Larry Day! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read.! Thank you for dropping by to reveal the book trailer for Raisin, the Littlest Cow and to finish my sentences. I greatly appreciate it.
Miriam and Larry: Thank you so much for having us on Watch. Connect. Read!
The book trailer for Raisin, the Littlest Cow is a collaboration between Alex Esseveld (animator), Larry, Alessandra Balzer, me, and the terrific actor and voice over artist Karl T. Wright.
Because I marvel at the extraordinary loveliness of enduring friendship, I must tell you a bit about Karl: In fourth grade, Karl and I were the best of friends (and acting buddies. We begged Mrs. Abrams to let us be the starring monkeys together in the class play. That was my best role!). My family moved after fifth grade, and Karl and I lost touch for decades. We reconnected just a few years ago, and picked that friendship right back up as if no time had passed. Karl asked if he could do the voices in Lion Lion if it ever gets made into an audio book. That’s not in the works (as far as I know!) but with Karl’s extraordinary range of talent, Larry and I thought he’d be PERFECT for the narrator’s voice in the trailer for Raisin, the Littlest Cow. Karl’s super busy, so we were extra thrilled he agreed to work with us -- we couldn’t be happier with the result! (Miriam)
Raisin’s mother loves her children. Both of them. She’s also, like her daughter, honest in her emotions. Raisin’s mother understands Raisin’s difficulty with a new baby in the herd, and does her best to include her. But as happens in many families, Raisin’s timeline for emotional growth stretches longer than her mother’s timeline for patience with the grumpiness – hence the warning twitch of her tail. (Miriam)
The idea for Raisin, the Littlest Cow was sparked by a drawing Larry brought home from his job in the advertising world. He had drawn an image in ink around a life-sized photograph of a raisin – a full-grown Holstein. The raisin was a spot on her back.
“Look! Her name’s Raisin! You should write a story about her!”
I of course refused.
But the idea gnawed at me: I mean, wow, I thought -- if the spot on the back of that cow is the size of a raisin, that’s gotta be one miniature bovine. We laughed pretty hard at the vision of a miniature cow running back and forth across the breakfast table. No story there – but I started asking what-ifs (I’m sure Larry would say I was chewing my cud over it). What if this cow was young? What would this calf want? What if what she wanted was related to her size? The next morning, I woke up thinking about how it feels when you’re small and possess a fervent wish to stay that way. From there, the story sort of wrote itself. Larry and I both come from huge families, and we have four kids; we know a little something about the feelings when a new baby
But, as we discuss with students: we don't have to have younger siblings to identify with Raisin! We all know the feeling of being left out -- as well as the feeling of accomplishment when we figure out how to grow. (Miriam)
|Illustration Credit: Larry Day|
School Libraries are deeply necessary. They’re where I learn(ed) about possibility, about friendships and families, about all different sorts of people from my neighborhood and our planet, about weird animals and how to care for my gerbils, about positive ways to handle things that scared me or made me sad, about how to dream, about people who accomplished greatness despite all odds against them. Libraries hold worlds of adventure and solace and questions and answers. For a brief time in one of my many schools (3rd-5th grade – same school Karl and I attended together), I was so very lucky to have one of those wise and magical librarians who seemed to know just what books to hand to me. Oh, that mixture of doubt and intrigue when she handed me a new book! I would scrunch up my face because even though I asked her for recommendations, the unfamiliar was off-putting.
“Or you could reread that one you just returned. Here. I’ll fish it out for you,” she’d say.
So of course, that intrigue and my ultimate trust in her won out, and I’d read the new ones. I didn’t love every book she recommended, but I learned (as she knew I would) about who I was and who I wanted to be from both the books that spoke to me and the ones that didn’t. And I was not unique – this librarian did this for every student she encountered – what a remarkable person! I was extremely fortunate. Larry and I sometimes visit schools without libraries. So many of the teachers we meet are tremendous in filling the gaps, but the lack of a library is such a disservice to both teachers and students. We’d love to be able to change that. (Miriam)
Lion, Lion tells the story of a team of animals led by a clever, kind, jokey little boy on a mission to rescue his pet kitty from a hungry lion. (Miriam and Larry)
Mr. Schu, you should have asked us what’s in the works! We split our time between Colorado and Illinois these days and visit schools together across the country. We love love love meeting young story creators! On Larry’s desk: finishing illustrations for Kay Winters’ Voices from the Underground Railroad and two more terrific picture book projects. On Miriam’s desk: a humorous chapter book, a middle grade fantasy (again!), and a serious, inspiring non-fiction graphic novel biography. (Miriam and Larry)
Also: Who is Raisin modeled after, look-wise? It took a lot of character studies to come up with the way Raisin finally looked once Miriam suggested that Raisin, by her name, was a very small cow. So I made her small with big ears and a tussle of hair on top of her head, inspired by my second grade picture. (Larry)
One last thing: Whenever we talk to students about revision, I always ask for a show of hands: Who thinks, when you’ve worked and worked and worked on a project, and you finally hand it in to your teacher, you’re done? Bunch of hands shoot up. And I always raise my hand along with them, because even though I KNOW better, I often think (secretly or not): D.O.N.E!
And I’m always wrong.
Raisin was a bit of a gift. Unlike Lion Lion, which took forever and changed SO much before its final version, Raisin came together quickly and changed very little. Still, like most stories (well, ALL of mine), it needed judicious rethinking and revision. So, a huge THANK YOU to my editor Alessandra Balzer for her foresight and good sense and patience. There were times when I was resistant to her suggestions, but the truth is she has clarity of vision that I don’t. She sees opportunities for tweaks and additions that make a good story so much better! Grateful over here. (Miriam)
Mr. Schu, It's a pleasure to talk with you. Thank you again. We hope you and your viewers enjoy this trailer and enjoy reading Raisin as much as we enjoyed creating the story! (Miriam and Larry)
Look for Raisin, the Littlest Cow on March 28, 2017.