About the book:
A young boy has his heart set on a brand-new toy fire truck, so he is disappointed when he gets his grandfather's rusty old fire truck, Red, instead. But working together, the boy and his grandfather patch Red right up whileGrandpa tells his grandson all about the adventures he had with Red when he was a boy.
Thank you Randall De Séve for stopping by Kid Lit Frenzy to celebrate the release of A Fire Truck Named RED with a special guest post.
The Birth of a Story: A FIRE TRUCK NAMED RED
I love an assignment, a concrete goal, the focus that comes with subject and time parameters. The focus that often eludes me because, really, as a picture book author, I can write about anything, any time.
So you can imagine how thrilled I was to receive the following email from my agent, Steven Malk, in September of 2012:
I mentioned to [Joy Peskin, editorial director of Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers] that I wanted to send her something by you and she commented on how much her son loves TOY BOAT. She wondered if you'd ever consider doing something similar but about a favorite train or car… I think it's a really interesting idea and one worth pursuing. Let me know if you agree. I think she's very keen on it.
And then began the brainstorming process (aka obsessing). Here’s a sample of what the next few weeks looked like for me:
*Make breakfast for kids and have half-there conversations (while thinking of vehicles)
*Take kids to school (“Look at that police car!”)
*Work time: Vehicles, vehicles, vehicles…
*Help with homework (while thinking of vehicles)
*Eat family dinner (“What’s cooler, a train or a car?”)
*Read goodnight story to younger daughter (“Is that a siren I hear?”)
*Snuggle with husband (“What do you think of dumptrucks?”)
Until one day my (exasperated) older daughter said, “Why don’t you write a book about a fire truck named Red.”
Now with a great title in mind, and a character worth exploring, I could do just that. Since 9/11, I had wanted to write a firefighting story but found the subject too heavy for children and too sacred to lighten up. (I should say that I live near a firehouse that lost many men that day.) But here it was, 11 years later; I could fictionalize firefighting now.
There are many, many picture books about fire trucks. I knew that if I wanted mine to stand out, it had to be about something more. A toy fire truck, yes, but more than that. Something personal.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad. He’s an old man—which I find difficult to say because we are very close; and in many ways, he’s quite youthful. He laughs easily; he takes long, vigorous walks (10 miles anybody?); and he thoroughly enjoys life in the moment. But sadly, he doesn’t remember these moments even shortly after they happen. So he can’t recount them the way he used to. Instead, he tells stories from the past. These he especially loves to share with my children.
A story-telling Papa and a toy fire truck…
Ok, what if the toy fire truck in my story was a grandfather’s old truck? And what if he gave it as a birthday present to his grandchild, who really wanted a new truck instead? What if this gift came with a promise to fix up the old truck “better than new”? For a child, can an old toy ever be better than new? What if that old toy and grandfather came with some very exciting stories? Could a young child learn to appreciate the old…?
Voilà! A FIRE TRUCK NAMED RED.
About the author: Randall de Seve is the New York Times bestselling author of Toy Boat, The Duchess of Whimsy, and Mathilda and the Orange Balloon. Her newest book, A Fire Truck Named Red, illustrated by Bob Staake, is on sale now. he lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, two daughters and a very wicked dog named Henry Biscuit. Learn more about her at randalldeseve.com.
Enter to win a copy of A Fire Truck Named RED by completing the rafflecopter below. Winner must be 13 years old or older and have a US mailing address.