What do rappers and computer programmers have in common? A passion for creating kids books. After a few years of hard work, Raj Haldar and Chris Carpenter have just published what they describe to be “the worst alphabet book ever,” and it’s so ridiculously hilarious, even adults would have an interesting time reading it.
“We were hanging out with our mutual friends and their kid, playing with these alphabet flashcards,” Chris told Abrozzi. “We both got a laugh out of the card for “Q” which read: “Q is for Quinoa.” That was so entertaining to us because, well, what little kid knows or cares about quinoa? And also, isn’t that a terrible “Q” word, considering that it isn’t even phonetic? That was the moment that sparked the initial idea to create our own alphabet book with only words like quinoa. The natural next step was to discover that the English language is so mean and nasty, there’s no shortage of irregular words to choose from, and so the format quickly evolved into these little blurbs, like “Q is for Quinoa: We enjoy quinoa and quiche by the quays of Qatar.” As you can imagine, we had a fantastic time writing it.”
“For a few months, we had a shared Google document where we’d pop in and add words as we discovered them,” Raj added. “After a while, it became pretty clear that the words we had collected implied a fantastic universe full of gnomes, czars, and tsunamis. For some letters, like “P” and “K”, there are quite a few silent first letter words to choose from — so we picked the words that felt the most engaging for young readers, like “pterodactyl” and “knight”. Other letters were much trickier, with few if any appropriate words to choose from. For those, we had to put some significant time and effort into creating clever workarounds that still matched the overall spirit of the book.”
“Neither of us are children’s book authors by trade — Chris is a computer programmer, and I’m a rapper otherwise known as Lushlife,” he said. “When we started down the road to bring this book to life, I don’t think we realized just how long the process would take. From start to finish, the project took almost three years to complete. Even though the book consists of just a couple hundred words, we went through scores of revisions. On top of that, we hardly knew anyone in the publishing world, so it took over a year just to find the right folks to help us get a publisher on board. Once we were able to cross that hurdle, our amazing illustrator, Maria Beddia spent a year in her studio working on the illustrations. I can’t think of anyone else who could’ve so beautifully interpreted our crazy requests, like having ‘a french leopard and a tiny witch sitting in a creepy Victorian home playing the Ouija board.’”
Chris also said that he firmly believes that kids are about as smart as adults, but without the wisdom or communication skills to fully demonstrate it. “We tend to underestimate our children when we present an overly simplified version of the world in teaching certain subjects. It can be enormously frustrating, for example, to have a particular set of spelling rules drilled into one’s head, only to discover later that “I before E” is a giant conspiracy. Of course, the basics are important too, but why not hint at a more complete picture from a relatively early stage, and trust that our kids can handle it? Our hope is that P is for Pterodactyl fills the latter role. Also, kids should reach for our book because of the purple turban-wearing pteranodon with a skin condition.”
P.S. Even though the first run sold out almost immediately upon release this week, the guys have another printing being rush processed — so folks that want to order now on Amazon will receive their copy of P is for Pterodactyl in just a couple weeks.
People think P is for Pterodactyl would make a great addition to any bookshelf