Before the snow hit this weekend, I did a book reading/signing at the Lake Grove Barnes & Noble, which included the unveiling of my new book, THE ALMOST TERRIBLE PLAYDATE. I'm pleased to report that it got a wonderful reception from the sizable gathering. A big thank you to Barbara Turney, the Community Business Development Manager for Barnes & Noble for arranging the evening, and to all those who interrupted their blizzard preparations to participate.
From School Library Journal's January issue:
TORREY, Richard. The Almost Terrible Playdate. illus. by Richard Torrey. 40p. Doubleday. Feb. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780553510997.
PreS-Gr 1–Having a playdate can be the best, but agreeing on what to play is another story. Two children exchange ideas, but neither one is willing to compromise and accept the other’s suggestions.
When the girl posits that she is a wizard and that the boy is a frog-turned-pony on which her doll can ride, the boy is frustrated imagining himself a frog.
When the boy suggests they both be race cars competing for the title of Champion of the Universe, the girl imagines covering her ears at the deafening sound.
The story continues back and forth, until the action reaches a crescendo and the children resolve to play alone. That is, until they find a way for their ideas to coexist.
The art is consistent throughout, showing each child in black pencil outline with single-colored clothing and their ideas illustrated to life in the corresponding color of their clothes.
There are no background illustrations, so the eye focuses directly on the images each child is conjuring through his or her ideas.
Often the imagined self of the child is taking on the same pose as the real-life child while they are going back and forth.
VERDICT A clever story of dueling imaginations.–Matthew C. Winner, Ducketts Lane Elementary School, Elkridge, MD
To read the review on the School Library Journal website, click here.
My new book, THE ALMOST TERRIBLE PLAYDATE was just reviewed by Leonard Marcus in The New York Times Book Review. An expert in the field of children's literature and an author himself, Marcus strikes a somewhat scholarly tone, filtering out some of the joy and fun in the process. That being said, my new book was just reviewed in The New York Times!!!!!!
Marcus's take on my book begins:
“It’s fun to have fun,” as Dr. Seuss cautioned in “The Cat in the Hat,” “but you have to know how.” In “The Almost Terrible Playdate,” a boy and a girl of 5 or so who have not quite mastered the art lock horns in a cranky negotiation over what let’s-pretend scenario to play out. Not surprisingly, both children want to have their own way and both wish to be the hero of their story.
Click here to read the entire review, titled 'STRICTLY NO ELEPHANTS,' BIG FRIENDS AND MORE
I would like to call your attention to children's author, Susan Leonard Hill's wonderful children's book blog. Last Friday she featured my next book, THE ALMOST TERRIBLE PLAYDATE in a regular post she calls PERFECT PICTURE BOOK FRIDAY.
In it she says:
This is a delightful story, told completely through dialogue and illustration (a good mentor text for writers who are working on similar stories.) The writing is spare and there is no written narrative – it’s all a conversation. The girl is completely sure that her idea is best, her game the most fun…and not surprisingly it gives her the starring role. The boy is equally convinced that his totally different idea is best, his game the most fun…and not surprisingly it gives him the starring role :) Anyone who has ever spent time around kids will recognize this dynamic. The children’s imaginative descriptions grow more and more elaborate as they try to convince each other, but it is not to be...
I invite you to read the entire blog post as well as Susan's other insightful pieces by clicking here.
There is not a more gratifying feeling than having someone you respect understand and like something you have created. I want to thank Susan for her very thoughtful post.
Today I received an advanced copy of my next book, THE ALMOST TERRIBLE PLAYDATE (Doubleday Books for Young Readers), which comes out next month.
From the Publisher's page: "Ideal for all families who have ever heard (or said!) the words “Why can’t you both JUST GET ALONG?!”, here is the story of two young children with VERY different ideas of what they want to play. What starts with an innocent question (“What do you want to play?”) soon veers hilariously toward chaos, as two children engage in the age-old struggle of princesses, ponies, and ballet vs. dinosaurs, dragons, and race cars. Which child will win? Or will both find a way to play nicely together?" Click here to read more from the post.
Wow, this is a big one for me. So happy to see this quiet book about a quietly-amazing dog make some noise. Although my books have always gotten good reviews, none has ever received any award. It feels good. Way to go Bob! Good dog! Click HERE to view the list.
While rushing to a lunch meeting with my agent and publisher last week I happened to walk past Macy's. This year's Christmas window display celebrates the 50th anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas. If you have the opportunity to get into NYC during the holiday season, and you're a fan of Peanuts, I urge you spend a little time fighting the crowds to see the display. You will be glad you did. Below are some of the pictures I took.
If you look carefully at the last shot you will see my big noggin reflected right smack in the middle of the window as I snap the picture.
50 years ago, I sat in front of our family's black and white TV with my brothers and watched the first airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas.
The following year I watched again, only this time in color. I can still remember the first glimpse of that winter sky full of stars, the glowing snow, and those strange search lights in the background as Charlie Brown and Linus searched for the perfect Christmas tree.
But nothing compared to the glow of that single stage light shining down on the tiny figure of Linus as he delivered that profoundly powerful soliloquy on the true meaning of Christmas.
I have watched A Charlie Brown Christmas every year since....sometimes multiple times. I could watch it a hundred more and never tire of that scene. So quiet. So simple. So perfect.
Now 50 years later, this national treasure is woven into the fabric of the holiday season. Hard to imagine that Charles Schulz nearly nixed the entire project before it ever got started. Harder still to imagine that, once completed, there were many doubters, including the producer of the special, the sponsor, and the network that was about to air it.
According to the LA Times, "a week before the December 1965 premiere, it was shown in New York for CBS executives, who watched in silence. When the lights came up, one of the bosses told Mendelson (the producer), "Well, you gave it a good try."
Join me Sunday, Nov. 1st at noon for a little reading, drawing, and book signing at the Bats, Barnacles, and Broomsticks Halloween Party at the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead! Click here for more information.
This month, the people at PLAYONWORDS.COM awarded ALLY-SAURUS AND THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL a 2015 PAL award given to books, toys, games, etc. that encourage language, spark fun, and invite creative play. Click here to read more about the award as well as a review of the book.
While I am proud of each and every one of my books, none of them have ever won an award-until now. Today my book, MY DOG, BOB received an award from the JUNIOR LIBRARY GUILD. The accompanying letter states, "The Junior Library Guild Selection designation is unique in that it is typically awarded so early-often in advance of publication. With its distinction as one of the first awards given, it is often viewed as a bellwether of future success." Thank you Junior Library Guild. I am very proud and honored to receive your designation.
A conversation with author and illustrator
Like all dogs, Bob enjoys breakfast, riding in the family car, and digging for bones. But unlike other dogs, Bob cooks breakfast for himself and his family, drives the family car and digs for dinosaur bones with a paleontologist. Author and illustrator Richard Torrey discusses the inspiration behind his hilarious picture book MY DOG, BOB....
PreS-Gr 1–Bob is an amazing dog. He can cook breakfast, drive a car, play golf, and dig for dinosaur bones. When neighbor Mimi comes over singing the praises of her dog Truffles, Jeff has to agree that Bob can’t hold a candle to Truffles when it comes to fetching a stick, sitting, and barking. So it goes that Mimi believes that her dog is the best, but in the end it is Jeff and his family who are enjoying a delicious pizza made by Bob. This humorous story is great for beginning readers. The bright cartoon illustrations follow the text perfectly and will catch the eye of any child. VERDICT A fun addition to any collection.–Betsy Davison, Cortland Free Library, NY
I was recently interviewed by Jennifer Berger, the news manager for NY Newsday's Family and Travel section:
Shoreham children's book author Richard Torrey, author of "Ally-Saurus and the First Day of School," is the author/illustrator of 14 books and is also the creator of greeting cards for Recycled Paper Greetings.
Torrey began doodling as soon as he could hold a crayon. In fact, in third grade, he was inspired by comic strip creator, Charles Schulz. He's also the son of Hockey Hall-of-Famer, Bill Torrey, and has two children, ages 24 and 19. Here he talks about his family, his books and more.
Q. Did your kids struggle with the first day of school?
A. "I think my wife and I had a harder time with the first days of school than our kids. I also think all kids have a tough time in their own way. It's a huge step, especially for those who never went to pre-K or camp. It's like being sent to another planet filled with unknown creatures (the other kids). That first week or so is life-altering."
Q. What was your inspiration behind "Ally-Saurus?"
A. "I had been thinking back on how my son, when he was four or five, would describe himself as a big fierce dog with a spiked collar and big sharp teeth. He was very precise in his description and made sure to repeat it quite often, in case we had forgotten anything from the previous 400 times he had told us the same thing. It suddenly dawned on me that my son had probably used his imagination (thinking of himself as something big and powerful) to help him throughout his preschool and early elementary years. That idea, combined with the simple crayon 'aura' of Ally's dinosaur persona are what drove the story. Ally herself is the spitting image of my daughter at that age, who thought she was Belle from 'Beauty and the Beast.'
Q. Do you let the images in your books direct the words or vice versa?
A. "Charles Schulz once said, 'there are artists that write and there are writers that draw.'
I would say I'm an artist that writes. In other words, I think visually. My first book, 'Beans Baker, Number Five' was the only story I ever wrote the traditional way -- sitting at the computer and typing. It worked in that instance, but I soon discovered that if I instead storyboarded my work out with small thumbnail drawings and hand-written text, I felt much more in touch with my work. I literally have hundreds of large sheets of paper divided into sixteen or eighteen 'spreads' with tiny pencil drawings and writing on them. That's how I work -- it allows a constant ping-ponging back and forth between words and pictures."
Q. What do you and your family enjoy doing on Long Island for fun?
A. "For the better part of the past 10-12 years my son has played travel hockey before heading off to play at prep school and now college. So much of our 'free time' has been spent in rinks, or traveling to and from them. As a side note, with my kids loving hockey as much as they do, I do lament that they were not yet born during the heyday of the Islander Stanley Cup run, when my dad ran the team. I try to describe how much fun it was during those years, but I don't think I can possibly do it justice. We have always enjoyed Long Island's beaches and spent many a summer day at Cupsogue or out in Montauk. I also golf (badly). And with the great summer weather we get, one of my favorite things to do on Long Island (especially when my family is all together) is to sit by the pool and do nothing."
Q. What's up next for you?
A. "This has easily been the busiest year I've had. I have three books coming out in a ten month span. 'Ally-Saurus and the First Day of School' (Sterling) came out in May. 'My Dog, BOB' (Holiday House) will be out this month. And in February, 'The Almost Terrible Playdate' (Random House/Doubleday) comes out, which will be my 14th book. I'll be busy promoting the three books. I'm currently working on three to four more story ideas, including a second 'Ally-Saurus' book."
I had a great time signing books at the NY NOW Show/Javitz Center in Sterling Publisher's booth. A long line of wonderful people-and in less than 30 minutes we had run out of books! Thank you Sari Lampert, Josh Redlich and everyone else at Sterling for making it a really fun afternoon!
It still surprises me when I'm talking to an auditorium of students about my books and one of them says, "I've read that!" or "My brother has that book!", or best of all, "Oh, I love that book!". The thought that something I dreamed up and scribbled into a notebook ends up being enjoyed by total strangers is just crazy to me. It's even crazier to think that some of those people live on the other side of the world.
Speaking of which, I just received copies of my book, BECAUSE, translated into Korean....
...Not to be confused with the Korean version of my book WHY?...
...Or the Hebrew version of my book ALMOST.
Like I said, crazy.
One of the most famous characters in the history of children's literature, Winnie-the-Pooh, actually started out as a real-life teddy bear presented by author, A.A. Milne to his son, Christopher Robin, as a birthday present on August 21, 1921. To find out more, click HERE to go to Brain Pickings-one of the best sites you will ever visit on the internet.
I recently wrote a guest column for The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) entitled "Romance and Writer's Block".
So there I was, on my honeymoon in St. Croix, weeks after the debut of my first syndicated cartoon strip, Hartland. And while I had romance on my mind, I was also thinking about the fact that as I was sitting on that beach, one of the strips I had already written and inked was being printed in the papers-and if I didn’t keep thinking of more ideas I’d fall behind! My brain locked on the fact that (at the time) Charles Schulz had been doing his Peanuts comic strip for 35 years. 35 years? Let’s see….35 X 365…THAT’S A LOT OF IDEAS! Let’s see….35 X 365…THAT’S A LOT OF IDEAS! I proceeded to try to write 35 years worth of comic strips right there on the beach. The result was the first and worst case of writer’s block I’ve ever experienced. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t come up with a single idea, let alone 35 years worth (which is 12,775)....
You can read the entire post by clicking HERE.