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Zippy is Missing

Celebrate the power of imagination and play as a grandparent and child explore the world while searching for a missing imaginary friend.

Photo of Joannie Duris

Written by

ZIPPY IS MISSING (text: 238 words)

[Art note for visual subtext: Every spread shows the imaginary friend, Zippy, out of sight of the main characters, but partly hidden somewhere for the caregiver/child reading the book to find. Math concepts are also addressed in the spreads where the characters look high and low: the items they find can be counted in the art—for example: 1 squirrel, 2 birds, 3 rocks, etc.]

Page 3

(Introduction-While You Read: I would plan to develop a list with the Challenge Team/publisher on how to use the READ strategy and TIPS method to introduce new ways to engage and interact with the child while reading the story, thus fostering milestones in the child’s learning development. In addition to the hide-and-seek and math elements noted above, the list will include suggestions for thinking out loud and repeat readings that engage conversation and give ownership to the child, having fun using different voices and acting out scenes, ways to highlight and PAT new vocabulary, and asking questions to nurture critical thinking. Use of simple spatial relationship words while discussing the art throughout the book (high/low, up/down, over/under, etc.) will also be addressed as another way to develop math skills. I hope to encourage imagination and curiosity in both the caregiver and child as they make connections to their own world—comparing and contrasting activities in the book to their own experiences, and perhaps using it as a springboard to create their own hide-and-seek game with an imaginary friend as a way to have grand adventures as they explore their surroundings together.)

Pages 4-5

I put on my shoes.

Nana grabs her backpack.

We’re ready to go.

But…

Zippy is missing—

AGAIN!

Pages 6-7

He loves to find things.

He loves to explore.

But we know

we can find him....

If we hunt really hard.

Pages 8-9 [Passing rowhouses on the way to the bus stop.]

Nana looks high, 

and I look low.

We can’t find Zippy.

Where did he go?

Pages 10-11 [Zippy on roof of bus.]

We hop on the bus

and search all around.

Nana: Did he take the train?

Pages 12-13

Child: Did he take a boat?

Nana: Did he take a spaceship…

Pages 14-15

Child: Beyond the moon,

the sun, and the stars?

Pages 16-17

Zippy is still missing

when we arrive at the park.

But we know

we can find him....

If we hunt really hard.

Pages 18-19 [Woodland trail in park.]

Nana looks high,

and I look low.

We can’t find Zippy.

Where did he go?

Pages 20-21 [Playground in park. Rope net and sandbox.]

We climb up ropes

and search sandy shores.

Nana: Did he join a pirate band?

Child: Did he walk the plank?

Pages 22-23 [Playground. Jungle gym.]

Nana: Did he explore

a far-off jungle?

Child: Discover dozens of

dinosaurs, dragons, and dogs?

Pages 24-25

Zippy is still missing

when it’s time for lunch.

But we know

we can find him....

If we hunt really hard.

Pages 26-27 [Picnic area at the park.]

Nana looks high,

and I look low.

We can’t find Zippy.

Where did he go?

Pages 28-29 [Art note: Perhaps in the front matter show the child putting favorite book(s) in Nana’s pack. This gives the child a key role in Zippy’s reappearance here.]

Nana pulls our picnic

and a blanket

out of her pack.

I dig out my books…

And guess who suddenly appears?

Pages 30-31 [Art note for page 31: At picnic. Nana reading with child and Zippy. Cover of favorite book is the same as this book.]

Zippy loves to find things.

He loves to explore.   

But we know  

we can always bring him back.                                             

With good food, good times, and…

…good books.

Page 32

(Beyond the Book: I’d plan to develop a list of connection ideas with the Challenge Team/publisher—ways for the caregiver and child to bring language, tools, and activities beyond the book to their own urban experiences. The list may include connections with bus rides, trips to the playground or park, picnic options, using math concepts to describe surroundings, and emotional connections with the comfort of familiar routines, and the joy of imagination and discovery of endless possibilities.)

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

Caregivers can use this interactive hide-and-seek adventure to explore the words and art together (see art notes). Fostering imagination and curiosity is vital to a child’s development, and this book is a model and springboard for caregivers to recognize ways they can add play to their daily routine by entering the child’s imaginary world.

Share your suggested book title

ZIPPY IS MISSING

PLEASE USE THE VERSION OF THIS QUESTION AT THE TOP OF THE SUBMISSION FORM: Share a draft of your manuscript (250 word limit, not including title).

I put on my shoes. Nana grabs her backpack. We’re ready to go. But… Zippy is missing— AGAIN! He loves to find things. He loves to explore. But we know we can find him. If we hunt really hard. Nana looks high, and I look low. We can’t find Zippy. Where did he go? We hop on the bus and search all around. Did he take the train? Did he take a boat? Did he take a spaceship… Beyond the moon, the sun, and the stars? Zippy is still missing when we arrive at the park. But we know we can find him. If we hunt really hard. Nana looks high, and I look low. We can’t find Zippy. Where did he go? We climb up ropes and search sandy shores. Did he join a pirate band? Did he walk the plank? Did he explore a far-off jungle? Discover dozens of dinosaurs, dragons, and dogs? Zippy is still missing when it’s time for lunch. But we know we can find him. If we hunt really hard. Nana looks high, and I look low. We can’t find Zippy. Where did he go? Nana pulls our picnic and a blanket out of her pack. I dig out my books… And guess who suddenly appears? Zippy loves to find things. He loves to explore. But we know we can always bring him back. With good food, good times, and… …good books.

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

I explored the big idea that adults can role model the joy of imagination and play through acknowledging a child’s imaginary world. Interactions between caregiver & child are encouraged throughout my story with a pattern of repetitive phrases, alliteration, & a rhyming refrain with a “right there” question. A fast-paced story arc moves it beyond a concept book, & as described in my art notes, a more complex visual subtext adds the interest of a hide-and-seek game and math elements for toddlers. Even the repeating phrase, “if we hunt really hard” is a cue for caregivers and the child to search together for where Zippy is hiding on that spread. Brief dialogue will allow use of different voices to further engage listeners. Throughout the story, predominantly tier 1 words are used with select “push-in” tier 2 vocabulary. Longer sentences have been split to create more manageable lengths of text to facilitate English language literacy for both the child and illiterate or ESL caregivers.

Please describe any familiarity you may have with Philadelphia and its residents? (optional question)

I haven’t been in Philadelphia, but I researched the city online and picked up a guidebook to better visualize the character of Philly and its neighborhoods. Although I now live in a rural area, much of my childhood was spent in large urban areas, including Tokyo and San Francisco. (My dad was in the Army.) I am also familiar with many of the largest cities in Massachusetts.

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

I wrote a spare text with a universal urban setting and common theme of going to the park to have broader appeal throughout the United States. My gender-neutral child leaves something to the imagination and allows young listeners to better identify with the main character and see the book as a mirror story about themselves. I would hope to be paired with an #ownvoices illustrator, perhaps from a local Philly community, for an authentic portrayal of life for your target audience. The illustrator would be able to add a few Philadelphia-specific details to the art, as well as diversity with the main characters and people in the background.

Location: Country

United States

Location: State or Department

Massachusetts

Location: City

Hubbardston

Website URL (optional question)

http://www.joanduris.com/

Tell us more about you / your team

I retired at the end of 2018 after a 40-year career as a psych nurse, including over ten years working with children in an in-patient setting. I also taught a nonviolent crisis intervention program (CPI) to coworkers at the hospital for 24 years. When I worked as a child psych nurse, we often brought the kids from our unit to the local playground. One day I climbed the net “sail” on the ship-shaped sandbox, waved my invisible sword, and did my best pirate imitation. We then took turns walking the plank. Afterwards, one child said, “That was fun! I didn’t know adults knew how to play.” That comment has stayed with me for years. I am a member of SCBWI and Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12 Picture Book Writing Challenge community. I lead a local critique group, and have been a longtime volunteer for New England SCBWI Conferences. Since my retirement I have enjoyed having more time devoted to my craft. And yes, I did have my own imaginary friend as a child—a horse named Lightning.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

I hope to be paired with an #ownvoices illustrator for an authentic portrayal of life for your target audience. With challenge and publisher input, I know the combination of text and art will add layers to the story that I may not have even considered. I was recently inspired by the bright, graphic, mixed media illustrations of Carme Lemniscates in BIRD (Candlewick Studio, March 12, 2019). https://www.amazon.com/Birds-Carme-Lemniscates/dp/1536201782

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • Yes

If yes, please list titles and publications.

B IS FOR BERKSHIRES (Islandport Press, 2015). Stories in CRICKET and LADYBUG.

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • A post on Julie Hedlund's 12 x 12 Picture Book Writing Challenge.

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • Author, retired psych nurse, ski patroller.

25 comments

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Photo of Dea Brayden and Lindsay Brayden Ellis
Team

Joannie! Great entry! You clearly do know how to play. :-) Really nice, well-thought out submission.

Spam
Photo of Joannie Duris
Team

Thanks for your feedback, Dea and Lindsay. I felt like I was playing while writing this too. Playing with words, and playing with my imagination. Hope to connect soon with you on 12 x 12. :-)

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