Here’s a taste of the essay:
One day during the revisions of my book The Day-Glo Brothers, I was reviewing a round of sketches while waiting in the dentist’s chair. The hygienist came in and asked what I was looking at. I gave her a quick spiel about how I had written but not illustrated a children’s book about Bob and Joe Switzer’s trial-and-error invention of daylight-fluorescent colors.
“They sound like nerds,” she said.
My next stop that morning was at the auto mechanic’s. When he handed me an invoice printed on what would commonly be described as neon-green paper, I pulled out the sketches and said, “I’ve written a book about the guys who invented this color.”
His reaction? “Wow!”
The story of how I turned the Switzers’ obscure, chemistry-intensive, entrepreneurial tale into an award-winning picture book has everything to do with those two reactions. It was all about my belief that, unlike the hygienist, the children I was writing for had the capacity to respond to the invention of Day-Glo with “Wow!” rather than with “They sound like nerds.”