Update: Please read all the way to the bottom for info on new "stretch" goals!
My son Jonas turns 6 in March. At night, he nestles into the curve of my right arm to delight in our latest literary adventure. He loves stories with knights and battles. Or stories with pirates and battles. While I share his enthusiasm for such stories, I feel a small pang of guilt as I read battle-laden tales. After all, I'm a pacifist. Yet whenever I try to read a story that exemplifies nonviolence, Jonas gets bored. I think that says more about the lack of adventuresome tales that exemplify nonviolence than it does the bloodthirstiness of my son.
The exception to this has been the story of St. Francis and the wolf (the legend of how St. Francis confronted a murderous wolf that held the Italian town of Gubbio under siege). The legend ends with a repentant wolf who becomes a friend to his former victims. The only part Jonas doesn't like is the ending. He'd rather the story end with a battle between Francis and the wolf.
To make the story more interesting, I've added a follow-up tale...one that fleshes out the implications of the wolf's repentance. In my extended version of the legend, the wolf attempts to put the principles of love and nonviolence into action, which is pretty hard for an old wolf with old habits. His attempts are awkward. The chickens are mistrustful. The cows are suspicious. His efforts become serious when bandits begin to raid the town.
A Wolf at the Gate is my attempt to teach Jonas what it means to be a peacemaker. But in a way that isn't boring.
To help capture its vibrancy, I've invited an up-and-coming artist, Joel Hedstrom, to illustrate the book.
About the Illustrator
Joel Hedstrom is an illustrator working in the Twin cities area. He graduated in 2010 with a BFA from the College of Visual arts. His influences include, Japanese woodblock prints, tattoos, Greek vases, and printmaking.
Here are a few examples of Joel's work. They aren't going to be included in the book; I'm sharing to give you a broader sense of his style. I selected him as an illustrator because I love how he captures the bold simplicity of woodblock prints. Joel's style conveys a sense of timelessness, but with a contemporary twist...which fits perfectly with my revision of a classic legend.
About the Author
My wife and I are the founders of the Mennonite Worker--an intentional community that offers hospitality to folks who'd otherwise be homeless. We also do activist sorts of stuff.
I've written a number of articles and written two books, but this is my first children's book. My most recent books, The unKingdom of God and That Holy Anarchist, explore the radical political implications of the life and teachings of Jesus.
So why would someone go from writing about Christian anarchism and mysticism to writing children’s books?
Because imagination is important. We have to believe that things can be different before we can change the way things are. So much of our society (particularly the way most schools function) exists to constrain the imaginations of our children and conform them to the image of of good consumers and compliant citizens.
I want to give children the gift of an expanded imagination, one that can look at our world and see possibilities. I want to help nurture wild imaginations, ones that refuse to accept the stories that constrain and control.
This is why I've written a story of a tenacious old wolf that refuses to return violence for violence but, instead, outwits violent men. I want my son to learn how to respond to injustice with love. If he can learn this at a young age, he won’t have to read my other books at an older age.
Breakdown of Costs
$1000 - Illustration
$1500 - Book design and typesetting
$ 100 - Registering the ISBN
$ 400 - Anticipated cost for packaging and mailing rewards
$ 425 - Service fees related to Kickstarter (approx 8.5% of 5000)
$1000 - Marketing costs
$4425 - Total
* * * * * * * * *
Update: Stretch Goals!
We did it! The project is funded.
In the past 24 hours, I've been bombarded with support for this project. To keep the momentum going, I've added some stretch goals...more pledges will only make the book better. That's more money for professional design help, editing, marketing, etc.
What's a stretch goal?
From Kickstarter's FAQ: "A stretch goal is a funding target set by the project creator beyond the original Kickstarter goal. Stretch goals as a term and a practice emerged from the Kickstarter community as a way for creators to "stretch" beyond the initial, official goal of the Kickstarter project and raise more money (and often make cooler stuff!). Funds are collected whether stretch goals are met or not, as long as the project has met its Kickstarter funding goal."
More money means that I can do more marketing, get better design help, offer more book formats, and offer cooler rewards to backers. So, if you'd like to make the book even better, here are some new stretch goals:
- STRETCH GOAL 1: $6000 Everyone gets a free set of stickers!
- STRETCH GOAL 2: $7000 Everyone gets a free set of stickers! And I will also expand our marketing budget so that we'll be able to send a professionally written press release that will be distributed to more than 30,000 opt-in journalists and more than 250,000 news subscribers.
- STRETCH GOAL 3: $9,000 All of the above, plus I will also professional record an audio-book that will be freely available in digital form to EVERY backer.
- MEGA STRETCH GOAL: $11,000 All of the above, plus I will commission and collaborate with a musician to create a children's album based upon the book. The music will be freely available in digital form to EVERY backer.
Risks and challenges
The illustrations have yet to be completed. Anything that could prevent that from happening could halt the project until another artist is hired. Joel has agreed to create 15-20 images for the book, which will include another 25-30 pages of text. Joel is local and reliable, so I don't anticipate any problems on that front.
I've written the story, but there is still editing ahead. I may re-write some parts to the story.
These creative obstacles seem easily surmountable.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)