Daily Archives: September 20, 2012

Day 20, book 20: Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons

OK gang, this is gonna be a quick one, because last night I fell out of bed so I’m not feeling super rested and alert today.

You heard that right. Fell Out of Bed.

Yes, apparently grown ups fall out of bed too. This is news. I feel like a nerd. A sore nerd, with bruises on her feet from where she kicked the chest of drawers as she crashed to the floor.

So it seems like the right day to recommend a book that is all about being cool, not freaking out, and just keepin’ on going when unforeseen stuff happens, stuff like losing your buttons (or spazzing out of your bed in the middle of the night and getting stuck down there for a little bit until you are rescued by a sweet but confused husband).

When you only have four buttons, losing one is sort of a big deal. Not for Pete. When one of his groovy buttons pops off, does he cry? “Goodness no! Buttons come and buttons go.” I like this cat’s attitude. The pattern continues until Pete has lost all his buttons and every time, he doesn’t worry one bit about it. As the cover shows, Pete just rolls with it.

I will forever be a fan of a sassy cat book, so Pete is a winner for me on that score. James Dean’s illustrations have a childlike look, brightly coloured and simple, like some you might see on the wall in a Grade 3 classroom. In terms of story, we’re not talking about life changing themes here, just a fun reading (or sing along) experience.

Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons is published by Harper.


Guest Post: Malinda Lo on the making of a book trailer for ADAPTATION

It’s my pleasure to welcome Malindo Lo back to Shelf Elf. Malinda is here to give us a behind the scenes look into the creation of the book trailer for her new release, Adaptation.

Welcome Malinda!

Over the past few years, book trailers have become quite a thing in YA. I’ve never been entirely sure if they succeed in making people want to read a book, but I’ve been fascinated to see how book trailers have developed. They used to be slide shows of still photos with text — remember 2009? But recently, some book trailers have become elaborate productions with casts, crews, costumes, and very! dramatic! music!

I wasn’t initially planning to make a book trailer for Adaptation because I didn’t think I was up for such a big ordeal. However, when I saw the book trailer that author Nina LaCour shot for her novel The Disenchantments, I thought: Whoa. That is the kind of trailer I would like! So when I learned that Nina and her friend, Amanda Krampf, had launched a mini book trailer production company, Less Than Perfect Productions, I knew that I wanted to hire them to make a trailer for Adaptation. Even better? Nina and Amanda live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so we could work on this in person.

I immediately emailed Nina to see if she was up for it, and I was very excited when she and Amanda said yes. After that, I emailed my editor at Little, Brown to get her input. We talked about different concepts for the trailer, and ultimately settled on a very quick, 30-second video that would act as a teaser for the novel. The goal was not to summarize the whole book in 30 seconds, but to get viewers to want to read the book. That meant the trailer had to convey the hook of Adaptation as well as show (visually!) the mood of the novel.

While many book trailers have text crawling across the screen, I knew that I wanted to have a voiceover narrator. I took the text that is excerpted on the back cover of Adaptation and built the voiceover narration around that, because I thought it expressed the novel’s premise pretty clearly. Then, Nina, Amanda, my editor and I thought about various images that could convey some of the things that happen in the novel.

In one of the scenes in Adaptation, the main character attends a funeral at Cypress Lawn Cemetery in Colma, CA, which is just south of San Francisco. (Notable fact: Colma was founded in 1924 as a necropolis; 1.5 million people are buried there. Also, nobody is buried in San Francisco anymore — they’re all in Colma.) When I was writing Adaptation, I visited Cypress Lawn as part of my research. It has a giant, beautiful mausoleum that looks like a palace. I suggested that we film part of the trailer on location at the mausoleum, where we could shoot the main character running after a man in black within the mausoleum itself. I thought it would not only look gorgeous on film, it would look creepy, and I wanted to make sure the book’s creepy vibe came through.

Additionally, Nina arranged to have some video shot that showed other aspects of the novel: driving down a highway, some scenes in an an airport, and the main character waking up in a hospital gown. Rather than a soundtrack, Nina suggested using the sound of a human heartbeat. I liked this idea a lot because sometimes I find the music in book trailers to be too dramatic; I wanted a minimalist yet creepy (again!) vibe. Continue reading