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The Local Profile - EDM

I LOVE YOU TOO, I LOVE YOU THREE—HOW A CHILDREN'S BOOK CAME TO BE

January 4th, 2017

By Wendy Tugwood, Edmonton Author of the book "I Love You Too, I Love You Three"

On New Year’s Eve 2013, I was feeling nostalgic, reading a poem I had written during an unhappy time, when I'd been separated from my three young children. The poem interconnected my feelings of separation with our bedtime routine. As I tucked each child into bed they would say “I love you, Mom.”

I would respond, “I love you too,” and they would reply “I love you three!” 

I felt the poem captured the emotional tug of being apart, and it brought to mind Robert Munsch’s book Love You Forever. On a whim I searched for the website of Sheila McGraw, the illustrator of Love You Forever, whose whimsical children’s book art I greatly admired.  I emailed: “I think you are a very talented illustrator…here is the text of my children’s book… I would love your opinion.”

I didn’t think I would receive a reply but, only three days later, Sheila replied:   ”Great poem.  Are you looking for an illustrator?”

Sheila did a wonderful job of picking up the story from there, in her blog at http://blog.sheilamcgraw.com, where she wrote: 

“I get bunches, heaps, stacks of kids' books manuscripts. When Wendy Tugwood's story landed in my email inbox in early 2013 there was something magical about it.

In the late spring of 2014, I was emailing my publisher, Mr. Big-book-bucks (president, Firefly Books) about business-ish things.  Somewhere in our discussion, on the off chance, the longshot, that Mr. B-b-b was interested, I dropped in a word about Wendy Tugwood's little manuscript with the working title "I Love You Three" that was kicking around on my computer. His response?

"We don't publish kids' picture books."

I wasn't entirely surprised...  However, while I wasn't entirely surprised, I stifled the impulse to say something along the lines of, "Pardon me Mr. B-b-b, but are you not the publisher of a certain blockbuster, bestselling children's book; a little thing called Love You Forever? A book which is arguably America's fave kiddie book, a book which has sold more than 30 million copies, that was first born in 1986 and has lived on to span generations; a book that is in its 30th anniversary, still going strong? Sheesh!"

Time scooched by and in July 2014 I visited Toronto and arranged a sit-down with Mr. 3-B's himself who (to my shock) came with Wendy's manuscript in hand. We discussed its attractions and detractions...

 Attractions: it's playful, it's emotional, it's heartfelt, it's not entirely concept-driven, it's relatable.

 Detractions: it'll be compared to Love You Forever.

 That was it. One detraction. Mr. B-b-b agreed to publish it if I would illustrate it. "Okay... deal." I said, and we shook hands.

 If you've ever heard the expression over the transom which means that to get published you either have to know someone or sneak your manuscript onto their desk... this publishing agreement was as over the transom as it gets.”

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