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Hollywood Scribes Staking a Kid-Lit Claim

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Last week, we made the acquaintance of Rob Kurtz and the Worthwhile Books for an Irish-themed lunch at Puck Fair, in keeping with the story of Seamus McNamus: The Goat Who Would Be King, Kurtz’s first children’s book. Kurtz regaled the small audience of book reviewers and librarians with stories of his days as a Hollywood screenwriter, and how his work on the 2006 animated feature Everyone’s Hero led to the creation of a children’s book imprint with the help of telecommunications tycoon Howard Jonas (who has owned a publishing company for the last 30 years) and a partnership with the comic book company IDW Publishing.

Once Worthwhile was up and running, Kurtz turned to his fellow television writers for funny kids’ stories: David Weiss took a bedtime story about a frog that eats all his friends he’d been telling his children for years and turned it into Carl the Frog; David Sacks and Brian Ross started out with one high-concept idea—aliens land on the Upper West Side and are confused by New Yorkers’ gentility—and eventually found their way to Vigfus the Viking, about a Norse family that come to Manhattan and wind up assimilating rather than pillaging. And then there’s Kurtz, who took the Irish traditions of the Puck Fair and created a humorous story about a goat trying to save his barnyard friends from the slaughterhouse. Naturally, all these stories went through an editorial process but, as Kurtz quipped, “We’re all network writers. We’re prepared for notes.” (And unlike certain sitcom stars, children’s book characters are a delight to work with.)

(photos: Kyo Morishima)

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