An Interview with Philip Pelletier
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We asked for stories about your vacations and here is what some
of you had to say:
Dear Babes to Teens:
I went to my grandma's house last summer. Well, just in July.
She lives in Houston, Texas. She took me to Waterworld, and
the Houston Zoo. I loved seeing the animals there. We also went
to the Museum of Natural Science where there was a display of
Leonardo da Vinci paintings, and models of his inventions. We
had talked about him in school, so that was kinda exciting.
Next summer, I want to stay home and go to summer camp. Love,
Hi! I went to basketball
camp that is by the Boys & Girls club. It was lots of fun, and
I learned some new moves. I even made some baskets from the
three point line! I can't wait for basketball season to start
at school. James B.
Hello Mrs. Rowe:
I just stayed home, but my mom let my brother and me get a new
puppy. He took up most of our time. He is a cute little guy
that we got at the Humane society, with a stubby tail and short
legs. We named him Max, and he already knows some cool tricks.
Lots of love. Joyce E. (and brother Freddy)
To Babes to Teens:
I read the new books that I won on your contest. Kewl! I'm entering
again and hope I win again. Other than that, my Mom and Dad
and two sisters and I just went to the beach sometimes and camping
sometimes. It was fun though. Jeremy
Hi, My cousin Susan
came to visit me this summer and we had a great time. She is
my same age. We did a lot of rollerblading, and Mom took us
to a cooking class. We learned to make spritz cookies, and Aunt
Rebecca bought us each a cookie press. I can't wait to make
Christmas cookies. Love, Amy S.
One Night in Frogtown is distributed through Allegro Music,
and is the beginning of a Frogtown series of kids’ books,
CDs, and DVDs, each containing messages of cultural and ethnic
understanding. In One Night in Frogtown, a saxophone-playing
frog learns to appreciate different styles of music (classical,
jazz, R & B., and hip-hop). This serves as a metaphor for the
value of cultural diversity.
Philip Pelletier’s work has been praised by The New York Times,
Variety, Premiere, Buzz, LA Weekly,
Time Out NY, and BBC World News. He has won many
awards and worldwide recognition. Pelletier has composed, conducted,
and produced music for Emmy Award-winning children’s series, Disney
and Pixar animations, and many award-winning films. He has created
film and television scores for Amblin’ Entertainment, CBS, Paramount,
20th Century Fox, Universal, and Warner Brothers.
Even before its official release, One Night in Frogtown has been
nominated for the 2008 Oregon Book Award for Children’s Literature.
Here is what Mr. Pelletier has to say about this marvelous new
Bev: Is this your first venture into the world of printed
books? Tell us about your motivation to write One Night in
Philip: Yes it is. I've written primarily movie screenplays
and scripts before this. I've created two original tv series,
and co-created a third for the producer of Star Wars called
Star, that's a modern-retelling of Voltaire's Candide.
I believe that project will be in development for eternity. I
also wrote & produced animated web shows for what is now Fox Interactive,
and scripted & produced animated projects for another certain
high profile movie studio. I can't say their name, but their mascot
is a big-eared mouse.
When I had the idea for Frogtown, I thought that instead
of creating a movie or
television script, that I'd like to produce the whole idea myself
and share it with people directly, rather than through a film
studio or tv network. This way the whole idea stays organic and
reaches the audience much faster, since studio projects can take
so many years to get made.
Bev: I just finished reading One Night in Frogtown
and listening to the fabulous CD. I know frogs are very musical,
and I love listening to their concerts at night, but how did you
come up with the idea of a saxophone playing tadpole as the main
character in your book?
Philip: Well it all started in a puddle. I was looking
out a window and saw a puddle in the rain, and I imagined a little
tadpole playing a tiny horn. I happened to be sitting with the
Frogtown illustrator Verne Lindner, and I told her what
I was thinking and she loved the idea. So I wrote the image down
on a scrap of paper and that was the beginning of the book. (I
still have that piece of paper!)
Bev: On the back of the book, there is a statement that One
World Musical Books is dedicated to teaching kids of all ages
about the value of cultural diversity through innovative musical
storybooks. What plans do you have for additional books? Do you
plan other stories about Frogtown?
Philip: Yes Frogtown is a continuing story and
there will be a series of musical Frogtown books/CDs.
We're releasing the first of our Frogtown "Learn To Read"
DVD series in the spring, and a series of Music CDs in 2009, entitled
Lullabies from Frogtown - Bedtime for Tadpoles, which is
ambient dream music for kids of all ages. It will feature Frogtown
vocalist Heather Christie ("Alone"). We have lots of Frogtown
projects on the way!
Bev: I see that a portion of the proceeds from this book is
being donated to the Oregon Cultural Trust. Tell us about this
trust and its goals.
Philip: The Cultural Trust is a statewide cultural plan
to invest in Oregon's arts, humanities and heritage. The Oregon
Cultural Trust was created to preserve and strengthen every aspect
of Oregon culture. Its goal is to provide long-term support for
culture in Oregon. Supporting Oregon's culture creates vibrant
communities by strengthening the economy, improving education,
and bettering our quality of life.
These are goals that we support, and so we try to promote those
values in our work as well.
Bev: Five beautiful songs, complete with lyrics! Were these
songs written especially for One Night in Frogtown?
Philip: Yes I wrote the songs specifically for One
Night in Frogtown. I also composed the music with the actual
performers in mind for each song.
Bev: I can see that this book required the effort and contribution
of many people. How did you get so many talented performers to
come together for this project?
Philip: As soon as I showed the performers what Frogtown
was about, everyone wanted to do it. I think the themes resonate
with a lot of people in our post 9/11 world. Creating a message
of cultural & racial understanding in a fun way was something
that everyone wanted to be a part of. Plus it´s not every day
that you get to go into a professional recording studio and make
Bev: Do you have any advice for kids who want to be writers?
Philip: There's an expression "A writer writes". I think
that is pretty good advice. The most important thing is to do
it. And writing is rewriting, so to continually improve your work
is quite important also.
Bev: Do you have other thoughts you would like to share with
Philip: One Night In Frogtown´s wide-ranging musical
canvas exposes kids to different kinds of music, from R&B, to
Classical, to Hip-Hop. The different styles of music symbolize
the differences between the social groups of frogs, while the
pond itself acts as a metaphor for the world. I was working in
LA during the LA Riots, and the memory still haunts me. It´s probably
one of the reasons I wanted to do this project. When I showed
Frogtown to Curtis (Salgado), he echoed the other performers
when he said, "Of course I´ll do it. The world needs this right
Bev: Thank you so much for sharing that with us.
Be sure to check out the Frogtown web
site! It's fabulous! You can meet all the artists there, and
even listen to the songs.
Children's Book Award winners for 2008:
Newbery Medal Award Winner: Good
Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices From a Medieval Village
by Laura Amy Schlitz. It tells wonderful stories about people
from that time.
Newbery Honor Award: Elijah
of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis. An 11-year old boy
from Canada risks his freedom to help an American friend during
Caldecott Medal Winner: The
Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. It's a mystery
about an orphan living in a Paris train station.
Caldecott Honor book: Henry's
Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad
illustrated by Kadir Nelson, written by Ellen Levine (Scholastic
Press, an imprint of Scholastic). Inspired by an antique lithograph,
Kadir Nelson has created dramatically luminous illustrations that
portray Henry "Box" Brown's ingenious design to ship himself in
a box from slavery to freedom