Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Unnecessary Children's Book Sequels That Never Were: a Contest

The Contest is now closed. Stay tuned for the results, including contest winners, Minh Le's illustrations of the winning entries, and more.

When Millions of Cats was published in 1928, no one, least of all Wanda Gag, could have predicted how successful the story of an elderly couple in need of a feline companion would be. It became the 1929 recipient of the Newbery Honor award, and decades later, the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1958. Gag posthumously won the 1977 Kerlan award for the body of her work, but that award did not include the ill-fated sequel to Millions of Cats, the recently discovered Millions of Rats:

Graphic modified by Minh Le

The book cover, as well as snippets of the proposed manuscript, came from the vaults of Garrulous MacKenzie, hapless editor of Sharper and Crow (whose collection of Children’s Books That Never Were may be found here and here). Notes from the editor read along the lines of “Millions of cats swarming over the countryside and gobbling up each other is wildly amusing. The idea of millions of rats doing the same thing makes my skin crawl.”

Minh Le of Bottom Shelf Books and I thought about some of wonderful picture-books we enjoyed that were followed by unnecessary sequels. such as Esphyr Slobodkina's Caps for Sale followed by Circus Caps for Sale, formerly known as Pezzo the Peddler and the Circus Elephant. We acknowledged that there were probably far more unnecessary movie sequels (i.e. Weekend at Bernies II). Then, we decided to host a children's book sequels contest that would call upon the creativity of our readers.

Between April 1—10, we invite you to submit your book titles and 2-3 sentence synopsizes to the Unnecessary Children’s Book Sequels That Never Were contest. For simplicity's sake, the books should be either picture books or early readers such as the "I Can Read" books. While Minh and I will have a say in terms of which entries we like best, we will have judges determine the winners in order to avoid even the hint of favoritism. The judges are Phil of Pilcrow and Melangell of Pipers at the Gate of Dawn.

The three prizes are a small painting of a random robot by Minh Le, a "butterfly herder" doll (i.e. "action figure") created by Farida Dowler, and a gently used DVD copy of Jim Henson's The Storyteller, series one. The first, second and third place winners get to choose their prizes based on their order. These winners will also have their submissions illustrated by Minh Le. All entries will grouped together in a blog post with links to your blogs if you have them.

Here are the rules:

1. You may submit entries as many times as you like before midnight on April 10, Eastern Standard Time.

2. You may submit your entries in the comments of this post, or if you want to keep your entries secret until after the contest, you’re welcome to send them directly to saintsandspinners [at] gmail [dot] com.

3. Immediate family members (Minh's and Farida's spouses and siblings) are welcome to submit entries; however, they will not be eligible for prizes.

4. You do not have to be an active blogger in order to participate. However, we ask that you be at least an active reader of blogs and have a viable commenter profile.

5. Please have a means for us to contact you so that we can get your prizes to you, should you win.

6. At the risk of fettering your wild and wonderful creativity, please refrain from overtly lewd and offensive submissions. This is a different contest altogether.

After the contest closes, the judges will have the weekend of April 11-12 to decide upon the top three entries. Then, Minh Le will illustrate them, and after he's done, we will post the winners and the rest of the entries.

By the way, Millions of Rats is an April Fool's joke. The contest itself is on for real!


Jules at 7-Imp said...

This is gonna be fun!

Sarah Stevenson said...

Woo hoo guys! Now I gotta start the brain going...

Minh said...

now i regret being involved because i can't make any submissions... d'oh! I want in on the fun!

In the meantime, I'll be in the corner stretching my illustrating and photoshopping skills, so give me your best shot!

Saints and Spinners said...

Minh: I feel the same way after seeing your painting, which I now have no chance of winning myself.

Myth said...

ROLF at the link to the bad books :) & at the millions of rats (we love the cats book...) okay, thinking cap on now... I NEED that butterfly herder lol

on second thoughts, drat you for that bad books link... my first idea for a sequel title - "Owl Rabies"... guess that ain't gonna fly :P

you may yet regret that "as many entries as you like" option :D

mamakopp said...

oh! count me in! I will be back with an entry or two. This is a fabulous idea!

Sam said...

I think the worst real sequel has got to be the Goodnight Moon sequel. That book is jacked up.

Here's my (first) entry:
What do People Do All Evening?
Children were bitterly disappointed to find out that after working all day, Sergeant Murphy just watches TV, Lowly Worm goes to bed early and Bug Dozer molts his exoskeleton.

Kristin said...

Children's study of life cycles continues in Eric Carle's new The Very Hungry Bird (eats The Very Hunger Caterpillar.

Kristin said...

Ezra Jack Keats presents The Day It Didn't Snow At All.

Office Buckles In Gloria: A Seat Belt Safety Story

Charlotte said...

"I Am Still a Bunny" by Ole Risom. We've already spent one fun-filled year with Nicholas the Bunny. Now the cute rabbit takes another trip through the seasons, in which he continues to be a passive, isolated observer of the pagent of life. "In spring, I watch other animals making friends." Children will be comforted by the fact that flowers still bloom, leaves still fall, and Nicholas is still watching them.

Anonymous said...

oh my gosh Farida what a fun contest- have to say the Hungry Bird cracked me up! Here is my first- I will have to play some more too fun! Thanks for letting me know about the contest!

unbeknownst to most Mike Mulligan owed most of his knowledge of large earth moving shovels to his older sister Michelle. While the other girls were playing under trees with dolls and their brothers, Michelle was teaching Mike the fine intracies of cellar digging on a small scale for the forest animals of Popperville to store their winter food. Recently dug up from the archives her story is now known in Michelle Mulligan and the Steam Shovel- she went on to be a ground shaker in women's liberation!

Philip said...

I just want to be clear that as a judge I am absolutely not susceptible to bribery... but you're welcome to try anyhow.

mamakopp said...

OK Farida. We had so much fun with this idea last night. Here is what we came up with as a family:

Rosie's Nap (Rosies Walk)

Daydream In The Classroom (Nightmare In My Closet)

Harold And The Invisable Crayon (harold and the purple crayon) this was Tobin's!

Mole Sings The Blues (Moles Music by David McPhail)

Thanks so much for such a fun contest! Had everyone in stitches!

Stephanie said...

"No one Poops But You,"
the not so popular sequel to the book "Everyone Poops" by Taro Gomi.

Beth Kephart said...

What a fabulous idea. I have to give this some thought.

Unknown said...

Let's not forget the ever popular, Where the Wild Things Aren't, a loving commentary on boredom and conformity.

Unknown said...

Not to mention the not-so-popular Dr. Seuss sequel, "The Fish was Right", where Sally and her older brother are grounded for allowing strange things and cats into the house.

Unknown said...

Third time's a charm:

The depressing, but historically accurate companion to the Little House series called "Little House on the Reservation", where we see how Native Americans were abused by the federal government to satisfy the settlers' needs for more land.

OK, I must be in a dark mood this morning...I better get back to work. :)

Vivian Mahoney said...

I'm going to have fun reading everyone's entries! Fun contest!

Elaine Magliaro said...


Here are my entries:

1. MIKE MULLIGAN AND HIS ETHANOL-POWERED PLOW--Mike Mulligan decides to go "green" and builds a plow that runs on the ethanol he manufactures using a Depression-era still in an old shed on his farm in Iowa.

2. CLICK, CLACK, CLUCK: CHICKENS THAT TAP DANCE--The chickens steal back the typewriter from Farmer Brown, write a screenplay for a song and dance musical, get financial backing from Gene Kelly's heirs, and produce a movie in which they star as a group of tap dancers at Radio City Music Hall called the Cluckettes.

3. BRIE AND FOIE GRAS FOR FRANCES--After spending a month-long summer vacation in Paris with her parents and younger sister, Frances returns home and refuses to eat anything other than brie cheese and foie gras imported from France.

4. THE VERY HUNGRY LARVA OR MOTH MADNESS--This is the tale of a "mad about plaid" caterpillar that eats his way through all the heirloom tartans in a Scottish castle. The larva is finally caught and "kilt" by a wild and woolly sheep shearer and his weaver wife who live on the banks of Loch lamb.

Not Sure if you'd consider the next two in the "lewd" category.

FROG AND TOAD ARE MARRIED--After years of hiding their true relationship, Frog and Toad come out of the closet and wed when the legislature passes a law in their state allowing same sex marriage.

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE HAVING A BASH--Max grows up and leaves home for Carousal State College--the biggest party school in the country. There, he meets other "wild things" and sails off with them into drunken oblivion every weekend. Of course, when he sobers up on Monday mornings, his Friday night dinners are always cold and moldy.

Elaine Magliaro said...

OOOps!!! it should read "Loch Lamb" in #4. I forgot the capital letter.

Dawn said...

"Charlotte's Web II: Revenge of the Spider Babies"
Charlotte's many children discover their mother's past as an uncredited, unpaid author whose works were used to benefit a lowly pig. Unable to collect royalties and forced to live in poverty, they devise an evil plot to exact their revenge. Wilber and the Arable family start to get strange and threatening Web messages like "The itsy bitsy spider is watching you" and "Mmmm, bacon!"

Unknown said...

"A Wrinkle in My Shirt"

In which Meg and Charles Wallace start a dry cleaning business that uses tesseracts to send clothing to the two-dimensional planet to remove wrinkles.

The Library Lady said...

I know someone has done the title already, but the follow up is:
"Where the Wild Things Aren't"
Max grows up, becomes an accountant, marries the nice Jewish girl next door and spends the rest of his life in painful anonymity.

And just in time for Passover :D

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, that is fun. I just love Millions of Rats so much that I kind of want to start telling the story that way. Except that would be wrong.

Sarah Stevenson said...

So many hilarious entries already! How can I compete??

Candace Ryan said...

Don't Let the Bus Drive Over the Pigeon.

Sarah Stevenson said...

Here are a few--more might be coming if I get inspired again tonight!

James and the Merely Average-Sized Brussels Sprout: After his adventure with the peach, James settles down to a more ordinary life on a farm, raising vegetables. Sadly, his plans for prize-winning produce are thwarted by the very same outsized insects that befriended him on his original journey.

A Wrinkle in Rhyme: Plans for the development of an all-poetry version of Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time were cut unceremoniously short when the ghost writer was unable to find words that rhyme with "tesseract," "Fortinbras," and "cherubim."

Yat-Yee said...

The View From Sunday. The friends, now all grown up, get together every Sunday night for cocktails, lamenting the fact that most people still don't know the real meaning of the word "tips."

Charlotte's Web 2.0
Charlotte's babies go off to save other piggies, leading to a severe ham shortage in the land.

Wet dog, wet dog, what do you smell? (Do i really need a paragraph for this?)

tanita✿davis said...

The charming and delightful sequel to Whistle for Willie, Ezra Jack Keat's Holla for Hadassah tells the story of a delightful six year old who wants to learn to mix it up with her Uncle Mordecai. Follow her through her neighborhood as she picks the neighbor's roses and experiences the power of a bellow, then hears a shout as she makes footprints on freshly laid concrete. Finally, after her mother puts her in time out, her own voice rises as she becomes a hollaback girl...

The gritty and chilling sequel to Caps for Sale, this year's Hacks for Sale: A Tale of Celebrity, Some More Monkeys, And Their Typewriters laments the difficulties of celebrity children's book authors. Follow the empty days of such disparate authors as A-Rod, Maria Shriver, Katie Couric, and Lynne Cheney as they rail against a ceaselessly indifferent publishing world which just won't give them the undeserved attention they crave...

Finally, after a long writing year, and a cross-country vacation with his eight grandchildren, wise New Yorker Maurice Sendak celebrates a new season of love and family togetherness with his newest picture book, that's a sure hit with Moms and Dads everywhere -- Oh, Yeah Once, Oh, Yeah Twice: Oh, Yeah, Bourbon Neat, No Ice.

Anonymous said...

Would You Like Trichinosis? by Dr. Seuss
In this very special sequel, Sam-I-Am reveals the downside to eating green eggs and ham.

82jp said...

Follow the adventures of an aspiring calf from the meadow to the market in the sequel to the ever-popular Arlene the Sardine entitled Louise the Head Cheese.

In the crossover sequel Diary of a Wimpy Spider, Spider stays on his web all day, avoiding his bullying older sibling until his world-traveling grandfather comes home and gives him a piece of his mind.

Laura Numeroff salutes activism in her sequel, If You Give a Pig a Pamphlet, telling the story of how just one pig really can make a difference.

In yet another crossover sequel, Walter the Farting Dog and Martha Speaks fall in love but discover that marital bliss is not so easy to achieve in Walter and Martha Get a Divorce Because He Smells Like an Outhouse and She Won't Ever Shut the %$&#@ Up

I don't know- maybe that's borderline, but I couldn't resist.

Herman Parish honors his aunt's memory by telling a heartwarming story of love and friendship in the midst of the difficulties of growing old in Amelia Bedelia Forgets Who She Is and is Found Wandering on the Freeway Median With No Shoes and a Half-Eaten Chicken Drumstick.

Byron Barton employs his characteristic style of simple lines and bold colors in yet another tribute to the glories of the working world in I Want to Be An Accountant.

Sam said...

The Phantom Tollbooth 2: E-Z Pass
Mostly about gerunds.

MotherReader said...

The Tree: Co-dependent No More!
A burst of insight leads the formerly Giving Tree to shed its unhealthy relationship with The Boy as it sprouts a new branch from the stump it has become.