It has been a long and windy road to get to this point. We've got a test print in the works, a tentative release date for Penelope Pie's Pizza Party on the books in September, and Mark and I are already hard at work creating book two, tentatively titled Barnaby Barchart's Treasure Hunt.
Here's a little more about how we got here.
To get you up to speed, since completing the Kickstarter project in 2016 a lot of change has happened in my life. My daughter Sofie was born and quickly became the boss of our household. David and I went to Italy to get married surrounded by all our dearest friends and family. We bought a house in Upstate New York, tore it apart and completely remodeled it (without too much bickering over design decisions of course). We also both left our jobs, packed up all our belongings and set out to explore the world with a baby in tow, in order to figure out what's next for us: both where we were going to live, and what we were going to spend our days working on.
One project I knew I had to keep working on was Vizkidz. Data literacy and giving kids a head start by teaching them how to interpret and analyze data is something that is near and dear to my heart. I knew next to nothing when I started working as a data journalist in 2012. I learned on the job and experienced first-hand how difficult it can be to communicate with data, but also how effective a tool it can be when used well. In an age where "fake news" seems to abound, numbers don't lie.
In what I would describe as fortuitous circumstances, I was introduced to Mark through mutual friends around the same time that I was looking for someone to work on illustrations with me. Having learned his background, I totally stalked his portfolio online and came across a project he had done while still studying at SCAD. I was blown away. It was that perfect edgy mix of hand-drawn and graphic that I had envisioned in my mind for Vizkidz and had failed miserably at explaining eloquently to anyone who would listen.
I introduced Mark to the project, told him why I was so passionate about it, and that I would be creating four books with the Storybook Genius Publishing team. He met my characters Penelope Pie, Barnaby Barchart, Laney Line, and Bertie Boxplot. I described their personalities and explained how they reflect their traits as a visualization, the adventures we would go on and how that would teach kids to analyze data, and all the while he didn't even laugh out loud or tease me for being the ultimate nerd. In fact, he agreed to join the team and has worked tirelessly to design the Vizkidz world you see today.
Once again it seems I am learning on the job. First of all, as an above-average loquacious person (that's a nice way to put it right?) I never knew how hard it would be to tell a great story in so few words. And after a few extremely awkward book readings with terrifying dead-pan stares from rooms full of children that are way smarter than me, I created an interactive experience that allows kids to actually build and analyze data visualizations as we go. Far more engaging! We're on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook building a community to bring our book to when we launch in September, and I am upping my hashtag game, to say the least.
With all that said, we are so excited to bring a physical copy of Penelope Pie's Pizza Party to you very soon. I promise to share a pre-order link over the summer, and cannot wait to throw our own little party to celebrate when everyone is back to school. We'll order pizza and dork out on data viz.