Follow along with Claire on her adventure outside her family's den!
Most children are born curious and are natural explorers, but how many times are they told that the world around them can be dangerous and that love of exploration is potentially quieted? I'm Jennifer Lutz and this scenario is the inspiration behind my upcoming book, Dust Bunny Tales, Curious Claire. The illustrations were done by Jenny Zandona, an amazing artist who can be found at jennyzandona.com.
I live with my family in Tucson, AZ, in the beautiful Sonoran Desert. I studied engineering but have always been doing something creative on the side, whether it be writing, painting or dancing. So to sum it up, you could say I am a science geek who also loves to create! I actually started this book 10 years ago(!) and last year decided it was finally time to bring it to life and have worked hard since then to get the book to where it is now. This will end up being a series of books and Curious Claire is the first in the series. The story rhymes so many children will have fun guessing what the rhyming word will be. There are also many interesting items within the illustrations that are designed to get children to ask questions and spark their own curiosity about the world we live in.
About the story
Claire is a curious little dust bunny who is always sneaking peeks outside her family's den, under the chair in the living room. But, every time she does she is scolded and told to never go out there, it is far too dangerous (you never know when a dust pan might show up!). So she obediently stays inside. However, in this first book, she gets her wish and goes on an adventure away from the den. Does the world end up being the dangerous place she's been told it is? I'll give you a hint, not when I have a say in it! Instead, it is a bright, wonderful place with many new things to see and experience. Some of it may not always be easy, but that's also how we grow. I was lucky enough to have Conrad Storad, author of "Don't Call Me Pig!" review the book and this is what he said, "Author Jennifer Lutz has created a fun story that is a treat for both the eye and ear. Chances are you’ve never met a dust bunny quite like Claire. The lovable creature has an appetite for learning that grows even bigger during a most unlikely adventure. Young readers will enjoy every page."
I found an amazing illustrator to create the pictures, Jenny Zandona. She has created a series of beautiful, fun and interesting images that bring the story to life. Here's another example:
What makes this book special?
The main thing that makes this book unique is how it is designed to spark curiosity and questions from children. Within the illustrations are many different things that most children may not be exposed to in a typical day. Things such as telescopes, a cello and a picture of the Taj Mahal are shown throughout the story even though they are not directly mentioned. In addition, there is a clue as to where the family lives, which is the Sonoran Desert. The ending is designed to lead to questions and conversation about all the different things Claire saw, which includes learning about the various things within the illustrations!
Something else special about this book (at least to us) is that our sweet dog, Cooper, passed away while this book was being finalized. Jenny, the illustrator, was able to capture him perfectly and so he gets to live on in our memories as well as a character in this book. Just like Claire, Cooper loved to explore and go on adventures.
Who is the book for and what is the plan for printing?
I wrote this story for young children (3-6 years old and early readers) that love to learn and explore. It will be in landscape format, 9 inches wide by 8 inches tall. I want this to be a sturdy book that will last years, if not generations, so I am printing it primarily as hardcover (if I get enough finds I will also print a paperback version). Right now, the book's content is complete, the text is written and edited, front and back covers are done as well as all of the inside illustrations. All that is needed is the final check by the printing company and the actual printing. I found a great, long established company in Canada that will print it in glossy hardcover with thick 100lb paper inside. The only hurdle is that printing is not cheap, so that's where I am asking for your support.
What will I get?
In addition to a (huge!) thank you for your support in getting the book printed I have created several different levels of rewards for backing my campaign, including some fun items to go along with the book. Here are some mockups of the different items available as rewards, which are in addition to the book.
I have some personal funds available to help with the printing costs, but not enough to cover everything. I have already covered the illustrator and various other costs (such as ISBNs, editing, etc.) but I need help to cover the bulk of the printing costs, which is over $4000, and that does not include getting paperbacks printed. I have the campaign set for the minimum needed but I have set a stretch goal for the project at $3000. With this amount I will be able to print a larger quantity of books for a reduced cost per book, which is ideal. If there are enough backers, I want to get a paperback version printed as well and I may also add in a couple other cute reward designs, like a second postcard or bookmark. With your help I can get this book into print and can finally share it with the world!
Currently the printer is booked out through the end of May so I expect the books to actually start printing around the end of May to early June, though this can change if other books are submitted ahead of mine (see risks and challenges below). With this in mind, the current timeline for everything looks as follows:
If you're interested in keeping up to date with the series and future books, please check out my landing page at www.DustBunnyTales.com where you can sign up to receive my newsletter.
Risks and challenges
I have spent many years as a project and program manager for my day job so I understand fully that people often overestimate what they can do in a certain period of time. That said, I believe the risks to the project to be minimal for the following reasons:
1. The text and illustrations are complete.
2. A high-quality printer has been identified and a quote issued. I also have multiple contacts there awaiting the files for final checks.
3. I have already designed and sourced all of the reward items that are different from the books.
The only real risk at this point is to the timeline. There is a chance that by the time the campaign ends and the book gets into the print queue that there will be more jobs ahead of it, pushing the print date out further than where it currently is. If that were to happen, I will make sure to communicate that clearly and in a timely manner here on the campaign page. However, everyone will still receive the rewards they contributed for.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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