by Laurie Keller
Henry Holt and Co. (February 25, 2014)
Description from Goodreads: Arnie finds himself in trouble when his neighbor, Loretta Schmoretta, begins telling news reporters that she was the victim of an alien abduction. And not just any aliens—alien doughnuts from outer spastry, who will continue the abductions until people stop eating doughnuts! Although Arnie thinks this is a ridiculous story, he notices that everyone is treating him differently, as if he is an alien doughnut rather than just a doughnut-dog. And then Arnie gets abducted! Arnie must think fast in order to rescue his fellow doughnuts and the townspeople from the alien invaders. The slapstick shenanigans continue in this hilarious second book in Laurie Keller's Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut series.
Kid Lit Frenzy welcomes author and illustrator, Laurie Keller to the blog. After reading Arnie the Doughnut, and The Bowling Alley Bandit (Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut), I was curious about the transition from picture book to chapter book. Thank you Laurie for answering my question, throwing in some of your great humor, and sharing some artwork with us.
Arnie Rolls Into Chapter Books
By Laurie Keller
When you write a picture book about a doughnut and you turn him into a doughnut-dog at the end and he’s happy, what do you do with him when you decide to write an early chapter book about him? In what point-of-view should you write it? How much back-story do you need to include? And the conundrum that keeps many writers awake at night: do you keep him as a doughnut-dog? Those were just a few of the DOZENS of questions I had to answer when I started writing Bowling Alley Bandit, first book in the series The Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut.
After writing several drafts, the point-of-view became clear: first person (actually, first DOUGHNUT, in this case) to separate it from the picture book and to really let the reader into Arnie’s doughy head. Back-story: sum it up in the first chapter and get out — he has new stories to tell now. But the really perplexing one: is he still a doughnut-dog? I thought it could work but to carry that through book after book seemed too limiting. SO, Arnie explains in chapter book one that there are places that don’t allow dogs or even like them, so sometimes he’s a doughnut-dog and sometimes he just a regular doughnut.
Now we’re getting somewhere — on to the jokes. In my picture books I pepper them with all sorts of asides that aren’t necessarily a main part of the story and occasionally, depending on the age of the reader, might “go over a child’s head.” But with this new format designed for a more independent reader the jokes needed to be as much a “sure thing” as I could make them. It’s hard to gauge which jokes a child will understand or appreciate but when I asked my friend’s 5th grader if she knew who Marilyn Monroe was and she DIDN’T, I knew one of my favorite bits that referred to her famous NYC subway scene had to be cut (whaaaa!).
|Arnie as Marilyn Monroe - image by Laurie Keller|
Another editing issue and the last major hurdle was that my editor thought it was too long (160 pages the first go-round) and that I was going off on too many tangents with sideline stories and bits of information like the one where Arnie goes — NO — never mind. I’ll save it for another Arnie book. It was hard at first to make the big cuts she was asking me to make but it read much more smoothly after doing so (why is she ALWAYS right?).
As challenging as it was, it has been a lot of fun navigating my way through this new style of writing and I look forward to trying my hand at writing for other age groups. I don’t know how many books will be in The Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut series but I have a goal of making a dozen of them. I’d love to see them sold together like a box of doughnuts. Hopefully Arnie won’t get STALE before then.
Okay, okay, doughnut puns OVER.
AHHHH, I did it again! Please, make it stop — I can’t stand it either!
Where to find Laurie Keller: website | twitter | facebook
Don't forget that you can can check out a copy of INVASION of the UFONUTS or BOWLING ALLEY BANDIT at your local library or pick up a copy at your local independent bookstore. If you have a US mailing address and are over 13 years old, you can enter to win a copy of UFONUTS by completing the rafflecopter below.
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