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Books for Summer's End

Walden Pond Route to Show Biz?

Children's book authors have their reasons for writing books. Making money never hurts, right? Angela Westengard and Deborah O'Neal wrote The Trouble with Henry: A Tale of Walden Pond because they wanted to get into the children's entertainment business, which, in non-Hollywood parlance, is kids' movies. I think. The Redlands Daily Facts has the whole story, which includes getting some 40 rejections for the picture book.


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I've read "The Trouble with Henry" and the article mentioned above, and I can't swallow the notion that the authors wrote the book simply as a way to break into children's entertainment--it's too good! The writing is lyrical and subtly humorous, and the illustrations are witty and stunningly detailed; this book is too intelligent to be the by-product of a scheme to break into kids' TV or Hollywood.

Frankly, I wouldn't count on "The Redlands Daily Facts" having the "whole story" on much (and as they only interviewed one of the two authors, it sounds like they have only half of this particular story). At any rate, don't let the article turn you off to an outstanding new book. It's a truly rewarding read.

I appreciate your first-hand review. Thanks for your recommendation of the book!

I wasn't put off by the Redlands Daily Facts story; I became more curious about "The Trouble with Henry." At the time I wrote my piece, that article was the only piece of P.R. on "Henry" that I was able to locate online. There still isn't even an Amazon reader review.

I don't want to belabor the point (okay, maybe I do...but just a little bit), but the following is taken directly from the article; my emphasis is in the bold-faced type.

"I wanted to do a children's documentary," said Westengard.

Connections in one area of show business do not translate to success in an entirely new area, and Westengard said that she suffered numerous rejections when she pitched her idea to studios. No one wanted to trust her lack of experience in children's entertainment, she said.

"We needed an opening into children's entertainment, so we wrote the book," she said.

Thank you for your response, Susan. I don't want to belabor my point, either, beef with your piece is that it might put off readers who are looking for a quieter, subtler kind of kids' book than your title--and Westengard's apparent show biz aspirations--implies.

I hope that teachers, librarians, and parents (and aunts and second cousins and neighbors!) will see this book for what it is: a lovely, funny, smart book for readers who think beyond Saturday morning cartoons.

Jenna, I like your summation of the book. "Henry"'s publicists ought to steal "readers who think beyond Saturday morning cartoons" from you. Great phrase!


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