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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

Join the conversation:

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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.

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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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Photo of Dee Leone
Team

This is a cute idea with a great emphasis on imagination and exploration. It's also great that you have repetition and include concepts like antonyms and numbers. Best of luck with this manuscript!

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Photo of Joannie Duris
Team

Thanks, Dee Leone for you feedback on what works in my story. And thank you for adding me to your team. You have an amazing toddler-perfect story. Best of luck to you too!

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Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Imaginary friends stories are always so fun and varied. Good job Joannie!

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Photo of Joannie Duris
Team

Thanks, Cathy. I'm lucky to have had a childhood filled with imagination. That's probably why I love writing stories with a touch of magic in them, filled with humor and often quirky characters. Kids need laughter in their lives. Sending you a long-distance hello as I see we're almost neighbors in the same state.

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Photo of Joannie Duris
Team

Thanks, @DeletedUser With imagination the possibilities are endless. I just took a look at your bunny story. Funny and warm-hearted at the same time. Loved the touch of magic with those looooong ears.

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Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Aw Joannie - thank you! I am glad that looooong eared magical element resonated with you. You seem to have a wonderful perspective on what makes reading and learning fun for little ones in your own work too. :)

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Photo of Joannie Duris
Team

Thanks, @DeletedUser . We both seem to have that connection to our inner child where life can be exciting and fun and full of wonder. Humor and unexpected surprises are what bring kids back again and again to their favorite books. The key words on my website--explore, imagine, discover--reflect my philosophy on life, and can be interpreted in various ways to reflect individual outlooks on the world.

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Photo of Marty lapointe-malchik
Team

HI Joannie, Thanks for commenting on my submission. You are very familiar with my writing and I so appreciate your feedback both here and in our critique group. Zippy brings wonder into the world of adults as well as children. I love how you've modeled working together by looking really hard with a primary caregiver as playmate. I can imagine an illustrator having loads of fun with this. Best of luck in this challenge!

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Photo of Joannie Duris
Team

Hi, Marty. You're more than welcome, and thanks for your thoughts on mine. That's what critique buddies are for! Hopefully see you next week. Fingers crossed, sending luck your way too.

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Photo of Itika Gupta
Team

Hi Joannie Duris  Welcome to the Challenge Community!
Lovely story of looking for Zippy and finding so many other things on the way.
How might you evolve your manuscript to introduce new nudges of engagement and interaction for caregivers, to help them with their child’s learning development as they narrate the story? You can find some inspiration in the Final Toolkit and Challenge Resources listed on the challenge page

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Photo of Joannie Duris
Team

Thank you Itika Gupta for your warm welcome and feedback on Zippy is Missing  My art note shared some new ways caregivers can use my story to interact with the child and foster learning development. I also included more information in the section of the submission that addresses how the book is informed by research and evidence. But you’re right. It would be helpful to summarize within the manuscript all the other ideas I have for using the book to encourage learning development. I’ve tweaked my suggested page breaks to share ideas for educational front and back matter. I know my page breaks are just that—suggestions, as I know the publisher and design team will have final say on the layout. I hope this addresses your concern.

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Photo of Joannie Duris
Team

Lauren Ito I wanted to thank the Challenge Team for the wealth of resources and informative webinars you provided to help us better meet your challenge goal. Some of my own favorite resources include READING PICTURE BOOKS WITH CHILDREN by Megan Dowd Lambert and the CHILDREN'S WRITER'S WORD BOOK (2nd edition) by Alijandra and Tayopa Mogilner. I was especially inspired by your challenge persona "Sean" and how books brought "possibility, optimism, and imagination to his world." And Alison Gopnik's TED Talk "What Do Babies Think?" reinforced my philosophy that children do indeed learn through playing, experimenting, and using their imagination and creativity. I know studies have also shown that kids with imaginary friends tend to be more social and show more empathy toward others in their play. After soaking up your resources I knew I wanted to write a story that showed an adult able to role model and enjoy the world of imagination and play through acknowledging a child's imaginary friend, or through imaginary games that develop social and emotional skills.

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Photo of Perlina Murray
Team

Well said.

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Photo of Perlina Murray
Team

Some of the scenes like pirate ship is a bit advsnced snd the page numbers are not necessary. It ttskes away from the story. Also feel free to read my manuscript and give feedback.

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Photo of Joannie Duris
Team

Thank you for your feedback, Perlina. Although I used mostly tier 1 words, I did include scenes with "push-in" vocabulary (as Lisa Dwyer calls it in the expert webinar) to build a child's oral language. I do usually only note page numbers when submitting nonfiction manuscripts to editors, but I wanted to include them here to better portray my vision to the team and show an understanding of picture book structure. Of course, the editor and art director will have final input on text and page layout. I'll be reviewing your manuscript shortly.

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Photo of Ashanti Antonio Prescott
Team

Searching for Zippy should be fun. The caregiver will lead the way.

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Photo of Joannie Duris
Team

Thanks, Ashanti. I had fun showing an adult being able to play and let imagination run. This is something I often did as a child psych nurse to add fun and laughter to the child's stressful life.

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Photo of Ashanti Antonio Prescott
Team

This is nice to hear Duris.
All the best

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Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

I really enjoyed reading this Joannie and I love the idea of the child's imaginary friend being on each page while they are looking. The rhyme works well and it's fun to read out loud, especially with the repetition.

Good luck!

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Photo of Joannie Duris
Team

Thanks, Catherine. I had fun writing this and imagining all the interactive possibilities between the caregiver and child. Although I know the final vision would be up to the team, I picture Zippy as being an alien-ish character, adding more diversity in a fun way, and allowing Zippy to do outlandish things while hiding (like being on the top of the bus).

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Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

I love the name Zippy and by not defining who/what s/he is you give the illustrator more scope to come up with ideas. Children will love being able to see Zippy when the characters in the stories don't :o)

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Photo of Dawnnbooks .
Team

on a grandparent would end up searching for a missing imaginary friend.
interesting story

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Photo of Joannie Duris
Team

Thanks, Dawnbooks. It's all about the power of imagination! All things are possible.