Later this month, we are launching "Hold This!"— a charming, new picture book illustrated by Boston-area artist Priscilla Alpaugh and written by Montpelier, Vermont, author Carolyn Cory Scoppettone. The story takes readers on a sensory journey through the woods with a young girl and her father. There are many treasures to be found along the way, but the greatest discovery is the joy they find in simply spending time together.
We recently chatted with Carolyn about the making of her debut picture book and her life as a working writer.
IP: Where did you get your inspiration for the book?
CS: When my daughters were little we would take long walks in the woods. The girls would rush ahead and return, beaming, with one woodland treasure after another. And, of course, they wanted me to hold them all.
IP: Can you speak a little bit about the evolution of this story idea?
CS: Actually, “Hold This!” started out as a longish picture book about a mother and seven children taking a walk at the seashore. The children collected treasures . . . a grain of sand, a stalk of grass, etc. Gradually their treasures grew bigger and bigger. Their mother held everything, but the weight of a baby elephant seal eventually caused the pile of treasures to come tumbling down. The story was absurd and funny and received some nice rejections from editors, but it was missing something – heart, I think. I put the story aside for a while, but I kept thinking about it. How could I capture that childish delight in the natural world? How could I express the parent’s poignant experience? Finally, I hit on the right approach. I love the way “Hold This!” turned out.
IP: You’ve been a journalist, a public relations specialist, and a copywriter, among other writing related jobs. Which was the most unusual?
CS: I once worked for a company that did promotional work for the toy industry. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were popular at the time, and our firm wrote the copy that appeared on the packages for the figures. I had a great time writing in the Turtles’ distinctive voices. This was probably the only instance in my writing life that I was paid to use the word “bodacious!”
IP: What do you hope readers take away from the book? =
CS: I want readers to appreciate how wonderful the simple act of taking a walk can be. We are all so busy, but there is magic that happens when we take the time to wander together.
IP: What are you working on now?
CS: I am always juggling more than one project. If I run into a roadblock with one story, I work on another one for a while. Right now, I am putting the finishing touches on a middle grade mystery novel about hidden treasure on an old New England farm, working through a first draft of another mystery set in the world of NFL football, and rewriting several picture books.
To preorder your copy of "Hold This!" visit our online bookshop.
And if your family happens to be in Vermont on Friday, October 2, join Carolyn for a story walk at 10:30 a.m. starting from the children’s room at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library, 135 Main Street, Montpelier, and then for a walk at nearby Hubbard Park. Carolyn will talk briefly and answer questions about the book. There will also be book sales/signing. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Nicole Westbom at the library at (802) 223-4665. The rain date is Tuesday, October 20.