The ONCE-UPON-A-TIME Storybook is the best-loved book of my childhood.
Never heard of it?
Well, you’re not alone.
Unlike the works of Dr. Suess, Maurice Sendak and Shel Silverstein, this storybook has slipped away into oblivion. Just another lost book that could not withstand the test of time..
but not really.
I loved this book so deeply and completely as a child, but as I grew older.. I started to forget.
I forgot the title. I forgot the stories. I forgot the name of the author..
but I never forgot the illustrations.
Those pictures haunted me.
So, I began a search that would last for 20 years.
I prowled endlessly through the children’s section of every used book store I could find. I had no information on what I was looking for other than the memory of the wondrous images that were burned into my heart. When eBay came along, I spent thousands of hours searching in the middle of the night.. desperately plugging in keywords in an attempt to describe the pictures I cherished. A pine tree with golden leaves. A dragon and a monkey.
It seemed impossible… but I refused to give up.
To make a long story short, I found the book.
Nowadays, it seems that practically everyone on earth has written a children’s book. In the era of self-publishing and user-friendly illustration programs.. there are authors out there churning out children’s books by the dozens. But, the difference in quality is obvious. I think most people (and children) instinctively know when someone is just “phoning it in”. Nevertheless, by working the system, these savvy authors have helped their books find their way to the top of Amazon’s best-seller lists.
I suppose I could do this too.
But, unlike those masters of marketing and self-promotion, I am not motivated by money.
The ONCE-UPON-A-TIME Storybook was originally published in 1958, and the author and the illustrator of this beloved book are probably long gone.
Maybe they never achieved fame and fortune. Maybe they never realized that their book could create such a lasting impression.
And maybe they never knew that they inspired a child to become an artist.
This is my hope for The Secret Kingdom, and for any other books I plan to create while I still live and breathe.
Every time I see my book in the hands of a child, I am reminded again and again that this is not about me..
and success is not measured in dollar signs.