Once a year, we send Bobbledy Club members a book with a few prompts and invite them to bring their full creative powers to the task of writing and illustrating their own books.
This year’s prompt book looked like this:
This time around, we added a twist by including a sheet of Robbi-drawn stickers for kids to use as inspiration for their own stories and drawings.
We sent out both of the above. We waited and waited while kids made their books. Then, suddenly, packages started arriving in the mail, padded envelopes, Priority Mail dispatches, even the carefully wrapped parcel or two.
The fun part was reading them and seeing all the amazing stories and ideas and images that flow so freely from the minds of kids. It’s a tap of eternal inspiration and imagination, and we’re so lucky to get to drink from that firehose.
The hard part was picking just one of the dozens of great books kids sent our way. But we hemmed and hawed and hemmed some more and finally came to the conclusion that the one true winner of this year’s contest was, for the first time, the product of more than one kid. Please join me in congratulating Eleanor, Isabel and Will Bolas on their triumph of sibling collaboration, Peacock and Duck Save Friendship!
I would give you the setup, but the kids do it so well themselves.
There is a truly epic “backstory,” which allows us to identify with and cultivate sympathy for the evil robotic overlord antagonist.
And in the final estimation, there is the happy ending that one hopes for in books about friendship.
Here are the author/illustrator triumvirate as drawn in their own inimitable style.
And here they are, drawn by Robbi (Eleanor, Isabel, and Will, left to right).
I have it on great authority that the arrival of the package was met with great joy in the Bolas household. Eleanor was overheard saying “it’s like a dream! I keep thinking I’m going to wake up!” And with good reason. It is not just everyday that one’s first published book arrives in the mail. I had to wait until I was 35 for it to happen.
Over the course of that first exciting evening, the book was read repeatedly by various configurations of Bolases to various other configurations of Bolases.
The next morning, books were taken to school to be shared and gifted to respective classrooms. One of Eleanor’s classmates was so enthusiastic, that he plans to write fan fiction to continue the story with the same characters.
Take a close look. These are the faces of tomorrow’s literary landscape. If you are literally searching for your wallet at this moment in hopes of obtaining your very own copy of Peacock and Duck Save Friendship, I will do you the courtesy of providing the link that will expedite this transaction.
But we must take a moment to acknowledge all of the other incredible kids who shared their amazing work with us. Here is just a little glimpse of each book we received.
I think you’ll soon see why our decision was so very difficult.
As far as we can tell, Peacock and Duck Save Friendship has been enthusiastically received by kids who entered the contest but did not win.
Here, for example, are Aurora and Leila, enjoying their own book while seeing what Eleanor, Isabel, and Will came up with.
And here is Joseph, whose mom reports the following:
Joseph came in, took off his backpack, tore open the red and purple envelope and settled in to read for his twenty minutes of homework. I felt as if the steam from the book, hot of the press, was still rising from the book, it was so freshly read this afternoon.
Joseph said ” I didn’t like the book, I LOVED IT! They wrote a great story! The robot slipped on a banana peel like oooooooo!”
And there you have it. Perhaps the only thing better than seeing the excitement that results from seeing one’s book published is seeing the support and excitement other kids can feel for their fellow young authors — even when they themselves don’t win.