About this project
Hi! We're Phil and Spencer and we LOVE children's poetry. Specifically, the amazing works of Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss, and Roald Dahl & Quentin Blake were huge influences on us as children and we still read them all the time.
These are authors and illustrators who pushed the boundaries of the genre, writing to children with intelligence and silliness in equal measure. Without question, their works helped shape our generation's view of the world, and taught us to approach our lives with a playfulness and good-heartedness that is invaluable.
Could You Hug A Cactus? is our effort to contribute. Beginning with the title, adults and children alike are challenged to ask themselves what they're capable of. Throughout the book, they are confronted with lovingly imperfect characters, surprising and hilarious twists, and an emotional complexity too often missing in the world of children's literature.
The foremost inspirations for this book are the amazing collections of poetry by Shel Silverstein: Where The Sidewalk Ends, A Light in The Attic, and Falling Up. His mix of brilliantly strange stories, emotional intelligence, and often darkly hilarious pictures sets a high standard that we aspired to throughout the project.
All of Spencer's art is completely original, meticulously hand-painted in acrylic, and absolutely amazing, as you can see for yourself!
We are both so proud of our work, and the work of our generous colleagues on this project. With the help of these incredibly talented friends and professionals, 24 of Phillip's favorite poems were chosen, meticulously edited, and arranged. Spencer's stunning artwork was the product of numerous conversations (over countless cups of coffee) and sketchbooks full of intermediate drawings before paint ever touched the canvas. This is all to say that we have worked really hard to make something AMAZING.
( Introductions Are Hard - https://vimeo.com/135208226 )
Hi, I’m Phil. Welcome to my blurb! I grew up in Michigan and met Spencer while attending MSU (Go Green!). We reunited forces when I moved out to Los Angeles in 2008, and in 6 months I had a job at Disney Channel’s “Suite Life” where I met lots of amazing people including my fiancé, Kelly! I am grateful everyday to be surrounded by such talented, brilliant, and supportive people. I’ve been writing poetry for years and seeing these pieces paired with Spencer’s incredible artwork is really special. Thank you for joining us on this adventure!
Hi, this is Spencer! I am a prolific doodler. Sometimes I even make art. I grew up in Mid-Michigan and was very fortunate to be involved in the visual arts and theater throughout my childhood. I met Phil in 2004 while performing in a play for Peppermint Creek Theatre Co. We've been friends ever since. I packed-up my car and moved to Los Angeles in 2007, where I still reside today. I currently work at Nickelodeon.
Could You Hug A Cactus? is a carefully curated collection of 24 original poems by Phillip Van Wagoner paired with amazing accompanying art by Spencer Smith.
What Will The Book Look Like?
I'm so glad you asked! We want this book to feel as good as it looks, and to be something that you, and your kids, and their kids want to pull off the shelf time and time again. To that end, we're working hard to make sure that we prioritize quality at every step of the process.
• 8" x 8"
• Green linen-wrapped hardcover with stamped spine
• Full-color glossy dust-jacket
• High-quality off-set, uncoated interior pages
• Full color, high-resolution illustrations
This book means so much to both of us, and we want the quality of the final product to reflect that.
To access our additional videos including an HD version, poem readings and blooper reels, you can check out the "Could You Hug a Cactus?" playlist at Vimeo!
Thanks to your support, we were able to fund the book, as well as hit 2 of our stretch goals, improving the rewards for everyone! Thank you all so
[√] $12,000 - Funded! The book will go to print and get to your hands asap!
[√] $16,000 - Backers at every level will receive a digital download of the audiobook!
[√] $20,000 - Backers at $7 and up will receive a 3-pack of original greeting cards featuring original poetry and art!
[ ] $25,000 - Backers at $20 and up will receive an additional original 8"x8" print featuring original poetry and art!
• Kelly, thank you for patiently listening to me read every draft of every poem I've ever written and for making sure I knew I was capable of doing this. I love you!
• Poem curation, layout and general brilliance provided by Mike Matola. He was instrumental in getting this project off the ground. Thanks, Mike!
• Immensely valuable copy editing and proofreading were provided by Naomi Long and her team The Artful Editor. Thank you, Naomi!
• Dave Cain and Dunbar Dicks - your camera, lighting, and directorial skills are amazing and we could have never made this video without you, as you well know. Thank you!
• The team at KickingItForward for allowing us to be a part of a very cool, very positive community of Kickstarters!
• Spencer would like to thank his family and friends for their contributions to "Could You Hug A Cactus?" and the Kickstarter campaign.
• To all of you helping us spread the word and to all of our backers - THANK YOU! We couldn't do this without you and your support means the world to us.
• Thank you to Jumpstart Magazine for interviewing us about our Kickstarter campaign!
• Thank you to Adweek for featuring us as your GalleyCat "Kickstarter Publishing Project of the Week"!
• A very special thank you to Jason Staczek for making his song "Lumpy Gravy" available under the Creative Commons Attribution License. You can find the (very quirky and cool) original song here: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Jason_Staczek/Do_Not_Track/Do_Not_Track_Jason_Staczek_-_07_-_Lumpy_Gravy
Risks and challenges
We believe in this book, and we know that it deserves a life on (and off) your bookshelf! With your help, we hope to move beyond our funding goal, but we also know that the work is just getting started!
In getting our project to this point, we hired a layout artist and a professional copy editor to edit and proofread the book so we can ensure we are offering the highest quality book that we can.
While we have put a lot of hard work into managing and organizing our printing process and rewards distributions, we've never made a book before! Because of this, we've looked to the expertise of those who have: friends and professionals in the publishing world. We've also paired ourselves with a highly reputable printing company that has worked previously with a close friend (Hi, Sil!) to publish an absolutely beautiful book called "St Lawrence ABCs"! Both of them have been invaluable in terms of scheduling and cost expectations.
Possible, reasonable delays have been incorporated into our delivery schedule, and we feel confident that we will have the book finished and into your hands by February 2016 at the absolute latest. Most importantly, we will always communicate with our backers because you are going on this journey with us!
If you have any other concerns or questions (or hopes or dreams), please get in touch with us at any time and we'll work together to make sure everyone is happy!
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