Wow! Wow! WOW! What a day! After a very fun and funny mime game in the Thalia, we returned to the Studio to meet Daniel Nayeri (Publisher, Children’s Group,) and Colleen Venable (Art Director,) of Workman Publishing, the publishers of Spy on History: Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring. But first, Colleen and Daniel amazed us as they described all the unusual and creative books they have produced at Workman, from a picture book about a train that has a real little train that can travel from page to page without leaving the book, to a book about lettering that has a chalkboard built into it, to a book about machines that allows you to make machines with wheels that turn and everything, to a book about archery that turns into a bow and arrow. Each one sounded more fun than the previous one!
Mary Bowser, the first in a series about spies throughout history, is by a secret author whose nom de plume is Enigma Alberti. It not only tells the fascinating story of a freed slave who insinuated herself into the household of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, and proceeded to smuggle dozens of strategic documents to the Union, helping to win the Civil War, but teaches the reader spycraft! Yesterday we learned about and created a wide variety of unusual maps with Kate Milford. Today, we explored the world of codes and ciphers and all the variations that can go into them, making our own cipher with some basic materials that Colleen and Daniel gave us. It was awesome. We got our books signed by both of them and got in one round of Capture the Flag at lunch.
After lunch, we got to visit Workman and learn about the whole process of creating these dynamic experiential books, as well as many of the other books and calendars that Workman publishes. Led by Daniel and Colleen, we met members of the design and editorial staff, got a sneak peek at the next Spy on History book, and got to vote on which of several covers we preferred for an upcoming calendar about songbirds. We learned that literally hundreds of people can be involved in the production of a single book, and that a single book can take up to ten years to go from initial idea to a book in a bookstore.
Tomorrow’s book is The Great Shelby Holmes, by Elizabeth Eulberg. Maybe we’ll learn how to be detectives!!