Baby Board Book: The most challenging story I’ve written yet

Jamboree Jam coverWriting a board book for babies and toddlers was the biggest challenge I have faced yet!

The day I decided to write a baby book, I had no idea it would be the most challenging book in the X-tails series yet. For the longest time, I had the desire to write a book for a slightly different demographic: a younger audience.  A book for babies and toddlers would need to be durable and that’s why I chose to go the board book route. In my head, I could visualize the book—a funny, rhyming story that was also meant for learning. It would be a book much different than my other books, but still needed to align with the X-tails series. It sounded easy, but trust me, it wasn’t! My wife, Corrie, and I brainstormed MANY ideas for a simple plot, but not too simple as it had to be entertaining and fun for both the child and the parent.

After an eternity, we settled on a plot about a race. But where, who, and why were they racing? It slowly evolved into the X-tails meeting new friends . . . who are all doing wild and wacky activities . . . . and who are then invited to travel to the Jamboree Jam, which is a race around the world!  And of course, I gave the end of the story a funny twist—which I won’t give away in this blog! Although coming up with the initial idea was tough, I faced a much tougher challenge—writing the story in rhyme. Through lots of research and hundreds of revisions, I was ready to provide it to my Editor. I’m fortunate to work with a great Editor, who gave me wonderful feedback. But for this book, I was even more fortunate that my Editor’s son, who had graduated from a Poetry Masters program in Scotland, was also able to review my manuscript. Both provided positive feedback, but they also had some great critiques. I continued to make adjustments, particularly on the meter of story, making it rhyme and flow smoothly. Back again to my editors, and with the only feedback being a missing comma, it was ready for the illustrations!

Vic, did another terrific job with the illustrations! He brought out the humour of the characters (especially the bull!), helped to make the X-tails younger, and added a fresh look to the X-van. He also did a great job of incorporating my learning concept, which was the subtle objective of learning colours.  

After the illustrations were complete, the whole package went to my Book Designer, Margaret.  As usual, she perfectly added the text, making specific words colourful and fun. Lastly, she completed the front and back cover. The book was almost done!

Okay, time for the printer. I’ve worked with a couple different printing companies through my other books, so I figured that finding a printer would be easy for this book. It turned out that I couldn’t be more wrong! Printing proved to be another learning curve as board book printers are uncommon in North America. The very few that do exist are pricey, especially with a low Canadian dollar. I had some affordable options of printing companies in Singapore and China, and ended up working with a company in Toronto, who are affiliated with a Chinese printer that uses soy based inks. With overseas shipping, port fees, and board book specifications much different than softcover specs, it’s been quite the ride!

The X-tails Travel to the Jamboree Jam is now being printed and I’ll have the books by the end of May. I must admit that I’m extremely proud of this book. It made me dig deep into my creative side and hone in on my writing skills. I’m also excited that the story is set up for a sequel, The X-tails Race at the Jamboree Jam. All in all, I feel as if I’ve grown as an author and I can’t wait for everyone to see the book. If you wish to be contacted when The X-tails Travel to the Jamboree Jam is available, click here.