We started working on Verano in a furniture store.
I was occupying the kids, who, like all kids, are like mini-tactical nuclear devices in shopping situations. You need to handle them very, very carefully, lest they explode. Luckily, it’s easy to occupy our kids, or at least contain them, especially in a furniture store, where we can pull up on a couch and simply tell them a story. We had a few long running stories they’d get at bedtime, but I don’t know if it was the change of scene or what, but we went in a different direction, that day. I wanted to tell a story about a fish, I didn’t have a name for the fish, but the couch on which we were sitting did, so we used that: Verano.
The story was Three Billy Goats Gruff-esque, and pretty much stayed true to itself through all the different re-tellings. They’re a reason those folktales are repeated so often, they’re just simple, well-constructed, and taut. We repeated the story for mom on the ride home. And then again for the next few nights at bedtime. The kids really enjoyed Verano, the little mischievous side to him, a little like the mouse in the Gruffalo, which is one of their favorites.
We talked, as a family, about turning it into a book a few times. With the iBookstore, iBooks Author, and the other electronic self-publishing platforms it’s pretty easy and inexpensive to get your content out and about. We theorized, anyway. None of us had had any experience doing it with a children’s book, so we just took it on faith that the advertising copy wasn’t selling us short.
Despite the perceived ease of doing so, the actual construction of the book languished. We would tell the story a few times at night, and make up sequels with Verano asking for teeth, or a story or two about his sister’s adventures, but the actual drawing of the fish just never happened. There were a few half-hearted attempts, and a few times we tried to really get down to it the Social Services SWAT team busted in the doors and whisked the kids away. The fact that we also had the kids making sneakers probably didn’t help our case.
I’m not a particularly good artist, and we wanted the kids to do the artwork, and have some hand in the creation of the book. And, you know, cheap child labor.