Sunday, January 18, 2015

Children's Book: Lil' Mouse in New York City

Back in 2001, I was working on a children's book idea about a small mouse visiting New York City. I had the story summarized and even started to take reference photos of the city, especially at night around Time Square - the central focus area of the story. My idea was to alter the photos into graphic backgrounds and draw the characters on top of those background. (Similar to what an animated film does.) The difference would be that I'd make the backgrounds very abstract but still recognizable as being New York City. Doing this gave the book a nice look and it would  also help stop any legal or copyright problems from occurring.

The now defunct children's book "Lil' Mouse in New York" circa 2001

In the story, Mouse is awestruck and overwhelmed by the pace of the city. At one point, Mouse feels he doesn't belong and could never live in such a huge city. Then one by one, other animals appear before Mouse; several park pigeons, a police horse, a guard dog and even a mouse-friendly cat. They each convince Mouse that he would be great in the city. In the end, Mouse, with guts and determination . . . decides to call NYC his home. (The running theme throughout the story was pretty much set to the song New York, New York.) This was all coming together during the Spring of 2001.

Then 9-11 happened. Everything changed. I stopped working on my books, especially a children's book about a city that just went through hell . . . it no longer made sense to continue.

Being a freelancer at the time, the attacks made it impossible to find new work. Even companies that would normally pay on time, were now taking months to send their checks. I couldn't continue my desire to do children's books anymore . . . I needed to find steady work to pay the bills. I went back into the toy making business.

Simon Prescott;s "Small Mouse Big City" - published in 2010 by Sterling

Cut to nearly a decade later, the same concept was done by another writer illustrator, Simon Prescott. My feeling now is that even though my idea for designing the story is very different, my fear is that my idea is too close to his story.