American Pie by Lynne Marie
Art by Dea Lenihan
Dancing Flamingo Press, 2022
Available for Pre-Order:
American Pie is the fruit of Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo, a creativity event held in November. The challenge was, as it is now for StoryStorm, to create a fresh idea for each day of the challenge.
I grew up in a family of German bakers and have always wanted to write a book about pies. On this particular Thanksgiving, I focused on actually coming up with such an idea. As I ate my apple and pumpkin pie slivers, I wondered how I could write about either of them in a way that was fresh and new. Nothing came to me. So I also considered other pies -- pecan, rhubarb, pudding, walnut, strawberry, blueberry. But apple is one of my favorites (especially with my father's special sauce on it). In an effort to avoid an over-baked idea, I wondered how I could write a book about apple pie, but yet not about apple pie. I came up with the goal/problem of wanting to make an apple pie, but having no apples. And, therein emerged the challenge for the main character to be creative.
But the story needed even a small amount of tension and stakes. Hmmm.
Thanksgiving didn't work as a holiday setting as if you didn't have apple pie, there was always pumpkin pie. And then the phrase came to me -- as American as apple pie. I knew then my story needed to be set against the backdrop of Fourth of July, rather than Thanksgiving!
Another image that came to mind is those strawberry, blueberry and whipped cream Fourth of July cakes that many (including my sister-in-law Terry) make. That quickly morphed into a strawberry, blueberry and cream cheese (I don't like whipped cream) pie -- an American Pie!
But what was I trying to say with my story? Hmmm. Those who know me know I love culture and always believe that we should all celebrate each other, embrace our differences (how boring it would be without them!) and that everyone should have a seat at the table. So I considered how I might achieve that message in a kid-friendly and accessible way with a few *what ifs*. Finally, I decided on this one: What if an immigrant was trying to celebrate its first Fourth of July in America and didn't have the means to celebrate in the right way -- friends for a parade, food and friends for a picnic and apples for an apple pie.
And so began my main character's quest (originally a Welsh dormouse named Hazel) for apples, that ultimately ends up in her gathering everything she wanted, including America's many diverse cultures coming together.
And voila! All my brainstorming created a fully-formed story idea! Once I wrote it, it took thirteen drafts to get it where it is today. Which, incidentally, is a bit on the low end, but it is a simple idea and the story path was clearcut.
When my first illustrator bowed out of the project due to heath concerns, Rate Your Story Member / talented illustrator Dea Lenihan stepped in to take over. To give it a new slant that represented both of us, we brainstormed new characters. After researching several creatures and what they eat, we came up with an Australian Wombat (a creative license since they don't actually eat fruit -- but hey, they are so cute and underrepresented), Korean Sun Bear (some bears like strawberries), a Malagasy Turtle (some turtles like blueberries),and a Swiss Cow (we needed Cream Cheese to complete the list of ingredients), as well as several other creatures from various cultures to make it a nod (limited scope due to space) to America's diversity.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving -- I am so thankful to the many cultures of the world that come together in America and inspired this story, to those who played a role in bringing it to life and of course, especially my critique partners over the years and Jodell Sadler (the first to believe in this story), my dear friend Callie and my dear friend and illustrator Dea!
AUTHOR BIO: Lynne Marie is the author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten -- art by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic 2011), Hedgehog's 100th Day of School -- art by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play -- art by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares -- art by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling / Scholastic 2019), Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World -- art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019), The Three Little Pigs and the Rocket Project -- art by Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press, December 2021) and American Pie -- art by Dea Lenihan (Dancing Flamingo Press, Spring 2022).
She’s also the Owner and Administrator of both RateYourStory.org and ThePictureBookMechanic.com, as well as a long-time Travel Agent with PixieVacations.com (www.pixievacationsbylynnemarie.com)! She's been a Cybil's Judge in the Fiction Picture Books and Board Books category since 2016. Recently, she's been handed the ReFoReMo torch from Kirsti Call and Carrie Charley Brown, which returns under March On With Mentor Texts in March, 2022 (www.rateyourstory.org/march-on). You can join her weekly Book Chat here: Mentor Text Talk| Facebook or at #ReVISIONWeek on Twitter which she co-hosts throughout the year.
When she’s not searching for story ideas all over the globe, she lives on a lake in South Florida with her family, a Schipperke named Anakin and several resident water birds. Visit her at www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com. Lynne Marie is represented by Marisa Cleveland of www.theseymouragency.com