The Squid Kids – how it began

March 4th, 2008 by Virginia Robinson

My friends and family will remember when, six years ago, I went to Russia with my cousin to meet the children she hoped to adopt.  We arrived in August, in time for the birthdays of the two youngest.  Each August thereafter I have tried to visit them in their home in Charleston.

When Lulu had her 4th birthday, I took her and her sister Elizabeth to Folly Beach to go fishing.  Elizabeth had awakened that morning thoroughly frightened by her nightmares of being chased by sharks.  She insisted that she, a good swimmer who loved to swim in the sea, would never go into the ocean again.

Once out on the Folly Beach Pier, we began to try to prepare her rod for fishing, attaching a weight and bait.  A couple of young men fishing next to us noticed our lack of know-how and offered help, which we gladly accepted.  They lent us a larger weight, gave us bait and helped Elizabeth bait her hook.  And what do you think she caught, almost immediately?  A tiny shark!  It was a helpless little thing, about seven inches long and thoroughly hooked through its lip.  Elizabeth had to decide on life or death for that little shark — whether to save that baby by removing it from her hook as painlessly as possible and tossing it back or to kill it.  She chose life for the shark.  She freed it and returned it to the sea and continued fishing.  And we never again heard her say she was not going to swim in the ocean.

Meanwhile, Lu was intrigued with the squid which the two young men, who turned out to be medical students, were beginning to dissect for bait.  They seemed happy to describe to her the parts of the squid and how each worked, and she looked and listened avidly.

Later, I tried to find a book on squids for Lu, since she had been so interested.  To my surprise, none seemed to exist for young children, as I explored libraries and bookstores.   There were books on giant squid and octopuses, but nothing on squid.  Friend Jim, himself enamored of our flora and fauna and its history, said, “Why don’t you just write one?”  As a former biology teacher, I had plenty of information and interest.  And I remembered the wonderful animal stories our dad made up for us, which always required creativity as I passed them along to sons and neices, and my delight in hearing and telling them.

Thus began the story of Suzy and Sammy Squid, the squid kids.  It was quite clear that a book for four-year-olds needed pictures, and so I asked my third grade friend, Linda, and her daughter Marya to consider doing the drawings.  Each of them was an adept artist and sketcher, in my view, and I was so happy that Marya happily agreed to create the visual Sammy and Suzy — making them come to life for the children who would read the book.

At the risk of creating a sexist document, I urged Marya to distinguish between the two squid kids by giving Suzy eyelashes.  And sexism came into the picture again.  Friends, grandmothers of four-year-olds, read the draft for us and one challenged, “Mrs Robinson, are you being sexist here?”  She noticed that Sammy was taking the lead in teaching Suzy.  Thus I had to make sure Suzy,  just as ingenious as Sammy, took the lead in teaching him some of the wonderful ways those two kids, like all squid kids, learned.

Especially fun for me, in trying to write for four-year-olds, was not only creating a simple but compelling story and one which is educational, but also adding the messages dear to my heart, i.e. we help most by teaching the other how to do it rather than by doing it for her or him, and we can do ‘most anything we really think we can if we try.

Hoping this little book will bring happy reading to children and those who read to them.

Another website

February 26th, 2008 by Marya Doery

PublishAmerica provides all of its authors with their own website. It’s a nice perquisite, and I’ve been trying it out just a little bit today for Virginia Robinson‘s author page.  I’ll be putting in more work to make it look better over time.

Speaking as someone with web development experience, the author site is not an ideal solution for promoting a book, because the domain name is lengthy and not memorable. However, it is helpful for those authors who want some online marketing support, but don’t want to pay for hosting their own domain. So far, I have a positive impression of PublishAmerica. I think they do a good job of supporting their authors.

The Squid Kids

February 14th, 2008 by Marya Doery

The Squid Kids: Suzy SquidHello World! Welcome to the official blog of the author and illustrator of the children’s book The Squid Kids.

This picture book is a collaboration between long-time friends Virginia Robinson and Marya Doery. It is soon to be published by PublishAmerica. We’ll keep you posted on the progress here. You can keep track of what’s new by putting this link to our RSS feed in your RSS feed reader!