Hi. Happy New Year! Let me say, first of all, how delighted I am that Cindy has given me an opportunity to discuss my book with her readers on her terrific blog.
I’m frequently asked if I’ve written anything else or was The Butt Book my publishing debut? Well, I did write a couple of other books when I was a much younger man, but I have to say The Butt Book is my first mature work. And readers often wonder whatever possessed me to write this book. Did I have some posterior motive in writing it? The Butt Book has a very interesting backstory. I was familiar with Dr. Seuss’s anatomical series. You may know the Bright and Early Books. There’s The Foot Book, The Ear Book, The Eye Book, The Tooth Book, The Eyetooth Book. They’re delightful. I love these books. And then I had a brainstorm: a butt book would make a great addition to this hallowed series. Now, because Dr. Seuss, sadly, passed away in 1991, he’s no longer around to flesh out the series by writing about butts. (Perhaps he couldn’t have written about butts then, anyway, but times have changed.) And somebody had to. I guess it was cheeky of me, but I decided to do it. So I submitted it to his publisher, but they passed on it. Then it found its way to more butt-friendly precincts, where Bloomsbury liked it and decided to publish it.
When they suggested Mike Lester as illustrator, I was ebullient. And I couldn’t have been happier with the results. He used scratchboard, which endowed his illustrations with a kinetic quality that greatly enlivens the book. His kangaroo, for example, seems poised to hop off the page. And he has such a captivating sense of humor, which perfectly complements my verses, making for a true (and wonderful) collaboration. Many reviewers have remarked about how rare it is for a picture-book author and illustrator to be in such harmony, and when it works, it‘s magical. And the good news is that Mike and I will have a second act. My next book—it’s poop-related, the perfect follow-up, right?—will be coming out in the spring of 2012, but from a different publisher. What’s remarkable is that Mike and I have never met, even though, it turns out, we graduated from the University of Georgia about the very same time. (He still lives in Georgia.) But we have had email exchanges.
I’ve been bowled over by the unbridled enthusiasm with which children—and discerning adults—have greeted the book. It’s so heartening to give the gift of laughter to a child. I had a hunch that it might get that kind of response the very first time I read it aloud. One of my listeners was a gloomy little boy who apparently rarely smiled or laughed. But this boy was transformed. He was guffawing with each verse—and as soon as I was finished, he yelled, “Again!” The metamorphosis was nothing short of astonishing. So I’ve come to recommend a large dose of Butt Book therapy for the child in need of a pick-me-up. Doctor’s orders.
And reviewers have also rhapsodized about The Butt Book, with words like “hysterical” and “hilarious” frequently popping up. One of my first reviews was one I never expected. On a whim, I sent a copy to our borough president. I never imagined I would ever hear back, let alone get this heartfelt letter.
The Butt Book has been a big hit at the festivals I’ve attended this year, where all the books have been snapped up partway through the events. And I’ve had oodles of fun at my bookstore and museum appearances. At one event, during the question-and-answer period, a small girl asked, “Why is your book so disgusting?” A small boy sitting just in front of her yelled out, “It’s not. It’s funny!” So there was the answer. And this little girl wouldn’t leave without a signed copy of The Butt Book, so I realized she meant “disgusting” in a good way.
And I’ve had hecklers at my readings. Who knew!? At my very first appearance, when I finished reading the opening verse (“Eyes and ears are much respected, but the butt has been neglected. We hope to change that hear and now. Would the butt please take a bow?”), a small boy called out, ”That’s not possible!”
I’ve also enjoyed putting together some great butt-related material for my website, artiebennett.com. You’ll find a buttload of fun stuff there, including fascinating butt trivia, more than fifty synonyms for the butt, even a classic butt joke.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Artie Bennett is the executive copy editor for a children’s book publisher and he writes a little on the side (but not the backside!). He loves tooling around on his bicycle and swimming till he’s “laphappy.“ He lives deep in the bowels of Brooklyn. He is pleased to share the visionary promise of The Butt Book with a wider audience. Please visit his website at Artie Bennett.
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