A note from Holly McGhee:
Let's make as much light as we can from the arts.
In this last month of 2016, here are some words and pictures from the writers and artists we are honored to represent, as we rely more than ever on story to help expand our minds and imaginations in our struggle to find the light.
“It's never occurred to me that the stars are still up there shining even in the daytime when we can't see them.”
— I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson
“Hasn't the world always been full of monsters and lies? Isn't it our place to fight them, to tell the truth, to rewrite the story? To ensure the return of spring in a world of winter?"
— THE GALLERY by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
“I am here and you are here and we are here together.”
— RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE by Kate DiCamillo
“Maybe we always were the people we imagined ourselves to be. Able and brave. Maybe we still are.”
— THE DISENCHANTMENTS by Nina LaCour
“In the still of the night, the baby was born. He opened his eyes to kind faces, quiet animals, a soft blanket. . . and a dark sky that was made lovely with light. . . . Light in the darkness—the best gift of all.”
— STAR BRIGHT by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
“Hail to honor, courage, love . . .”
— ROLAND THE MINSTREL PIG by William Steig
“And so she had. Grandmother, who had spent a thousand years in a jar, had finally chosen love.
She had seen it, pure and simple and clean, seen it in the small beings of two gray cats and an old dog. Love in all its complexity and honor made a circle around them all.”
— THE UNDERNEATH by Kathi Appelt
“‘Of all the questions you ever ask yourself in life, never ask, “What’s the point?” It’s the worst question in the world,’ Ruby said.” — HELLO UNIVERSE by Erin Entrada Kelly
"‘Just because a magic is small doesn't mean it is unimportant,’ the Lightbender said. ‘Even the smallest magics can grow.’"
— CIRCUS MIRANDUS by Cassie Beasley
“Later she sat on the ground in the forest between school and home, and spring was so bright and beautiful, the warm air touched her so tenderly, she could almost feel herself changing into a flower. Her light dress felt like petals.
‘I love everything,’ she heard herself say.
‘So do I,’ a voice answered.
Pearl straightened up and looked around. No one was there.”
— THE AMAZING BONE by William Steig
“Someday you will swing high—so high, higher than you ever dared to swing.”
— SOMEDAY by Alison McGhee
“And in the moment between moonset and sunrise, Ernest D. looked upon the endlessness of his newly discovered land. ‘All this was hiding in a pond,’ said Ernest D. ‘How exceptional.’”
— BEYOND THE POND by Joseph Kuefler
If you aren’t familiar with his work, first as a record album cover and jacket designer and then as a Caldecott-winning illustrator, visit the wonderful web site his family has created, where you can find out all about his career and hear his voice on a video as well: Pulcinella Press.
This July 12th marks the fifteenth anniversary of his death, and we miss him just as much each year. It was a terrible and dark day when we found out he had passed away after a three-year battle with colon cancer. We knew his death had been fast approaching, but we weren’t ready. Nobody could possibly be ready to say goodbye to this elegant artist and friend.
Here are some things that people said about him in a tribute.
During that last year of his life, Fred had finished the story, the sketches, and even painted some of the final art for Arrivederci, Crocodile, the sequel to his bestselling I, Crocodile, the first original book he had ever written and illustrated.
And now finally, with the help of the legendary editor Caitlyn Dlouhy at Atheneum Books, we have found a way to publish Arrivederci.
It’s hard to believe that Pippin is celebrating its fifteenth birthday this year.
I left HarperCollins, where I was an Executive Editor, in March of 1998, was married a few weeks later, and a couple of weeks after that, I opened the doors at Pippin, from our apartment on East 19th Street. I dreamed about the day when my Pippin answering machine (remember those?) might actually have messages on it. Emails were just becoming the norm too, and the suspense of dialing in to AOL from my IBM Thinkpad to see if anyone had news, or possibly even an offer, was real.
I studied NEGOTIATE TO WIN on a nightly basis, and everything went as well as one could hope, by turns exhilarating and terrifying. About a year later, our first child was born, and she was a beauty, but she was loud. While the babysitter tended to her during the day in the living room, I held meetings in the bedroom, with classical music playing in case the baby cried (who can stand to hear their babies crying?). I remember many an author and artist, among them Harry Bliss, Pascal Lemaitre, and Jef Kaminsky, sitting on the edge of my red comforter, while I sat at the drafting table that was my desk. Nobody minded, because we all were working on projects we loved, without an acquisitions board. We were gambling on our own taste, and it felt so liberating!
By the time Baby Charlotte turned one, working out of the bedroom was increasingly challenging, and Pippin moved to East 38th street—we spent a wonderful decade there. That’s where we began to receive our first royalty statements, as the projects we had sold became real books. Watching our original library grow was inspiring, and our client list began to grow too. But always, the reason for bringing on new authors and artists remained steady—we had to fall in love with the work first, and that holds true to this day.
I thought I’d share some highlights and lowlights from the past decade and a half . . .
~The decision to call the company Pippin, in honor of the first book I had edited by myself, ZEKE PIPPIN by William Steig. It only took a minute, because I was the only one casting a vote.
~The generosity of Bill Steig’s offering to make our logo, dressing Zeke in a business suit because as he so eloquently said, “you are going to do business, right? I’ll give him a tie and a desk.” That’s Bill—no bullshit.
~ Fred Marcellino’s gift of designing our stationery—we’ll never change that stationery, for it’s a living reminder of those two Pippin heros, Fred and Bill, who are no longer here.
~Making the first deal, for Sally Cook’s GOODNIGHT PILLOWFIGHT, and learning the hard way that editors like to know when it’s a multiple submission.
~Hiring the first assistant—he could do no wrong because at once, somebody else was making copies . . .
~Writing to Kate DiCamillo and getting an answer, a GREAT answer, that being YES!
~The 2001 Caldecott Medal, a Caldecott Honor, and a Newbery Honor all in the same year—thank you David Small, Doreen Cronin & Betsy Lewin, and Kate DiCamillo.
~Signing on Peter H. Reynolds, on the basis of how he drew a teacup (he loves tea).
~Finding out the hard way (again) that it’s a bad idea to accept an advance payment on paperback publication—because there might not be a paperback.
~Making a deal for my big sister Alison’s #1 New York Times Bestseller SOMEDAY, paired with Peter H. Reynolds, after it was turned down more than a dozen times.
~Finding out the hard way (yes, again!) that when you order the “film” for a picture book that’s gone out-of-print, it comes in an eight-foot tall canister.
~Advising Kate McMullan to get more ‘tude and lay it all on that garbage truck book, I STINK! (She had more ‘tude than she ever knew.)
~From our 38th Street office window, watching the taxis go by with Universal’s ad for DESPEREAUX, our first film, on top. Sometimes it pays to be on the mezzanine floor.
~Auctioning David Small’s graphic memoir STITCHES, our first adult trade book.
~Publishing my own first book, under pen name Hallie Durand—now I’ve seen the publishing world as an Editor, an Agent, and an Author . . . need I say more?
~Going digital with our contracts, and admiring the way Elena negotiated the sale of our empty filing cabinets on Craig’s List. She’s tough.
~A 2013 Caldecott Honor for David Small’s ONE COOL FRIEND and the 2013 Newbery Medal for THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate, the award dinner being the very night after Elena Mechlin’s wedding to Greg Giovinazzo. We both showed up.
~Those last six weeks on East 38th Street, Julie Just at the conference table with her headphones on (to block out noise), Elena and I unable to make eye contact because of the boxes, and all of us getting on really well despite the discomfort—I think it was Mr. Jones, my fifth grade teacher, who said, “There is no ‘I’ in team.” He’s right.
~And finally, our glorious move to the new headquarters at 110 West 40th, Suite 1704, no more headsets and no more boxes—we made it!
Happy, happy birthday Pippin!
Pippin Properties, Inc. is a small and distinguished literary agency located in New York City, and from month to month in this blog, you'll be hearing from our authors, artists, and other special guests—all sharing stories about whom and what has most influenced them in their creative lives. It's my hope that you find these stories inspiring and come back to visit again and again.
My vision for Pippin is captured best by the cultivation of the bonsai tree—intense devotion to detail and beauty, with elegance and mystery taking precedence over size. And with fastidious care, the bonsai lives on through generation after generation. Someone I respect enormously once said to me, "you can go large, or you can focus." To this day Pippin remains focused on representing unparalleled work by the finest authors and artists writing and drawing today, be it picture books, middle-grade, young adult, or adult literature.
Early in my children’s book publishing career, I was given the chance to edit Zeke Pippin by William Steig. Zeke is a pig who runs away from home, only to discover he has a magical ability, which he learns to use prudently. And so when I went out on my own years later, I turned to Bill Steig for a logo—that’s why you see Zeke sitting behind a desk at the top of our letterhead —and that’s why we’re called Pippin. As Bill said in his Caldecott speech for Sylvester and the Magic Pebble:
“Art has the power to make any spot on earth the living center of the universe; and unlike science, which often gives us the illusion of understanding things we really do not understand, it helps us to know life in a way that still keeps before us the mystery of things. It enhances the sense of wonder. And wonder is respect for life.”
WELCOME TO PIPPIN!
*(thank you, Alison McGhee.)