It's official: The announcement for a children's book adaptation for The Oxherd Boy came out earlier this month in the publishing circles, and I am thrilled to share with you that Little Brown Young Readers, an imprint of Hachette Livre Group known for award-winning books for children, will be publishing the first Oxherd Boy picture book called BIG ENOUGH in winter/early 2025.
A Note about the Book Proposal
This picture book actually went to auction back in May, which means that multiple publishers were interested in acquiring it. Liz, my agent, and I started out on one side of the book proposal process receiving rejections. It was strange for me to find that in the end, we found ourselves on the other side of the equation having to reject others. And, it was a bit bittersweet.
As a creator who had nothing to their name 18 months ago and hearing war stories from other writers and artists who had been through the ringer at every stage of the traditional publishing experience, it was easy for me to sometimes see agents, editors, and publishers as unfeeling gatekeepers of what stories had a right to be told and shared.
What I learned is that rejection hurts everyone, even those doling it out. I certainly felt it, because I would love to work with all of the incredible editors who were taken by the story of BIG ENOUGH as much or perhaps even more than I did. Maybe, at some point, I will someday. But, when you can only make one person happy, you automatically deny that same happiness to others, and it wasn't easy.
All the same, Alvina Ling, my now editor for BIG ENOUGH, had said early on that no matter if we win or lose, "You root for the book" and putting out a good book is what matters in the end.
Writing for Kids
Having followed the webcomic and looking through the different illustrations, you might wonder as I did how The Oxherd Boy would be adapted into a storybook for children. I found that there are a variety themes that the characters address in the webcomic that it is impossible to write a 600-word story to do them justice, and so I didn't try.
The story BIG ENOUGH was conceived from one of the the very first webcomics I made of the ox soothing away the boy's fear of him with kindness. I wanted to tell the story of how that happened. How did the boy become the Oxherd Boy? How did he feel, how did the ox react? And together, how did they lay the foundation for their friendship? BIG ENOUGH intends to answer all of these questions, and I hope it is the first of several Oxherd Boy books to follow that can explore other topics already introduced in the webcomic and book for adults.
I hope you and the little ones in your life enjoy it when it is published. I've already been working through so much with the incredibly supportive and experienced team at Little Brown, in a way that has elevated the book beyond my initial vision. I'm excited to share more as we continue in this work.