Discover more from Garrett Francis
Otis Licks His Tiny Human—a children's book
Prior to becoming a dad, I had zero experience with children. And I mean zero.
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When I decided ten-plus years ago that I wanted to be a writer, not once did it cross my mind that I’d want to write children’s stories. Seriously. Not once. I dreamt instead of writing novels and short stories that would floor adults of all ages, and of writing the screenplay to a film that’d be rewatched by many of those same adults each year.
But when in 2020 I became a father, things shifted. Many, many things shifted, of course. And my writing was no exception.
For one, I almost quit writing entirely shortly after my kiddo was born. Which is a story for another time. But also, as I watched her become more and more interested in books—and as I in turn read more and more children’s books—I found myself impressed with the depth of ideas being presented by children’s books, and enamored with how authors were doing it.
I’m not ashamed of not knowing that sooner, but I do feel something… like I stand alone in a line called IGNORANT?
The truth is, though, prior to becoming a dad, I had zero experience with children. And I do mean zero. I practiced swaddling and changing diapers with a baby doll months in advance of my kiddo’s arrival, just for context (which, let me say, turned out to be quite unhelpful 😂).
Beyond that, here’s what I mean:
I’m the youngest of two boys, and my brother does not have children.
I’m nearly the youngest of my generation within my extended family, meaning: I had two younger cousins growing up, though only by a year or two; I read to neither of them and I changed no diapers.
My day job doesn’t involve children. At all.
So, in some ways, I think the only line I could’ve wound up in is IGNORANT, or IGNORANT-ADJACENT. I guess I could’ve been the weird guy devouring children’s books in the bookstore, for himself, and by himself… but that seems unlikely. And also weird. To the point that: if you spot a grown man doing this in a bookstore, it’s very, very okay to be suspicious. In fact, if you spot a grown man doing this, maybe consider telling someone? I mean, think of the guy’s stomach. What all that paper and all that ink could do to a digestive tract…
The point is: children’s books can be really amazing, and I felt an urge to try my hand at them. It brings me great joy thinking that maybe someday in the not-too-distant future my kiddo could be reading something I wrote, and that it could be speaking to them in the ways our favorites do.
What you’re about to read here, a picture book titled, Otis Licks His Tiny Human—one that’s near and dear to my heart, given how influenced it is by my own experience—is one of my first attempts to create just that.
I was hesitant to share it here, if I’m being honest, because, well, first of all, you—the adult reading this preface—aren’t the target audience. You aren’t between the ages of four and seven. And you likely won’t have the same feelings or reactions that a kiddo of that age might.
Secondly, in its current form, this story is just text. Though there are notes I’ve included for an illustrator at some point, there are currently no illustrations (which is obviously a crucial component to picture books).
Lastly, due to the constraints of a newsletter’s format, it could be argued that it just isn’t a good medium through which one should share such a thing (which is why I’ve opted to include it as a downloadable .pdf).
Yet, I felt compelled to send it your way.
The why of it is rather simple: drill beneath the target audience bit and, you know what, if it’s a good story, you, dear adult, are going to have some sort of reaction to it. You might not want to have it read to you 139 times. But even without pictures maybe it elicits an, “Aww,” or a, “That’s sweet.”
For me that is enough. And if that’s the case for you, if you’re touched by what you’re about to read, please do let me know. Reply directly to this email. Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.
And, if you’re friends with an illustrator, or agent, that might dig what I’ve written and be interested in collaborating in some capacity, do share it with them. I’d love to explore ways to bring this story to physical life.
Finally, before you scroll to your download, I wanted to include a snowy photo of our Otis (that’s really his name), who’s still very much licking his tiny human:
Download Otis Licks His Tiny Human (.pdf)