Vermont farming couple starts bidding war with book 'Sweet Pea & Friends'

ESSEX, Vt. -- This is the story of how an injured lamb named Sweet Pea started a war. Well, a bidding war.

See Full Article

About a year ago, John and Jennifer Churchman's border collie, Laddie, found that one of their lambs had hurt a leg in the barn on the Vermont farm where they keep sheep, ducks and geese.

John Churchman called a veterinarian and kept the couple's Facebook group up to date on Sweet Pea's recovery. Online supporters urged a celebration. Giving in to whimsy, the Churchmans dressed their animals up in hats and leis, and fed them delicacies like pumpkin slices.

Through the process, John Churchman took photos of the animals, the sun and ice patterns -- all images that formed the illustrations for "Sweet Pea & Friends: The SheepOver," a children's book they initially self-published with support and suggestions from online followers. They used a crowdfunding campaign to raise the money for a print run of 4,000 books, which has almost sold out.

John Churchman took a copy to The Flying Pig Bookstore in nearby Shelburne and sold three books while showing it to owner Elizabeth Bluemle, who ordinarily turns down self-published books.

The next day she wrote a post that appeared on the Publisher's Weekly ShelfTalker blog. "It was hard not to jump over the counter and pump his hand in congratulations," she wrote.

"This is the unicorn of self-published books because you never find the trifecta of beautiful production, a lovely story and authors who understand what it takes to create a wonderful book that kids love," Bluemle said last week in an interview at her store.

"We've gone through cases of this book," she said.

Within days, the Churchmans were represented by New York literary agent Brenda Bowen, part of the team at Scholastic Press that acquired the North American rights for the first "Harry Potter" book.

What followed was a bidding war for Sweet Pea's story among five major publishing houses. Now the Churchmans have a generous six-figure advance; the story of Sweet Pea, published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, is in stores in time for Christmas; and they're working on the second installment of their three-book deal, continuing to tell stories with words and images that are inspired by their animals.

John Churchman is a fine art photographer with a background in painting and graphic design. Jennifer Churchman is a writer with a background in marketing and product branding.

They have dozens of animals on their Essex farm, which they consider props for their photographs. In the process, they get to know their distinct personalities.

"As we watch them every day little story lines unfold and then we pair them with John's images," Jennifer Churchman said. "It just creates this wonderful story, a true story that we think really resonates, especially with children, and many, many adults."



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Oscars 2017: 'The Hurt Locker' over 'Avatar' and more Academy Awards mistakes

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    You and I can disagree on a movie, but time gets the last word – even over the Oscars. Year after year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences deems one movie better than all the others, to the consternation of many. Source
  • Oscars 2017: Five reasons the Academy Awards don’t really matter

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Winning an Oscar can mean the difference between a big career and a middling one. Or not. For every actor (or filmmaker) who wins a little statue, there are many others of merit — Annette Bening, Alan Rickman, Samuel L. Source
  • How stars spend a month getting ready for Oscars' red carpet

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Like prom for movie stars, the Academy Awards is Hollywood's most glamorous night. It's also the most photographed celebrity event of the year, its starry images beamed instantly around the world and endlessly reproduced in fashion magazines. Source
  • Rocker Rick Derringer pleads guilty to carrying loaded pistol on plane

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    ATLANTA — Rock guitarist Rick Derringer has pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a $1,000 fine after stepping off a Delta Air Lines flight from Mexico with a loaded handgun in Atlanta’s airport. Prosecutors say Derringer told a federal air marshal he kept his gun with him on commercial airline flights 30 to 50 times a year. Source
  • Tommy Chong on potential pot crackdown: 'Stay high'

    Entertainment CTV News
    Tommy Chong has a message for those fearing a crackdown on recreational marijuana use: Don't worry. Stay High. Chong shot to fame in the 1970s alongside Cheech Marin as the stoner comedy duo Cheech & Chong. Source
  • Tom Brady 'Deflategate' movie and book in the works

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    BOSTON — Tom Brady: The Movie? A new book and a major motion picture are in the works about the New England Patriots’ star quarterback and the “Deflategate” suspension he overcame to earn an unprecedented fifth Super Bowl ring. Source
  • 'We are multidimensional:' Issa Rae, Janelle Monae honoured at Essence pre-Oscars gala

    Entertainment CBC News
    Actresses Aja Naomi King and Yara Shahidi quoted James Baldwin. Insecure creator Issa Rae shared awkward memories of her first trip down a Hollywood red carpet. And singer-songwriter Janelle Monae, who makes her acting debut in two films nominated for best picture at Sunday's Oscars, insisted black women "have a right to have our stories told. Source
  • Patrick Stewart ready to say goodbye to Professor X

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Patrick Stewart has dubbed Logan his last X-Men movie after “weeping and sobbing” during a recent screening. The veteran actor returns as Professor Charles Xavier in the new movie, while Hugh Jackman steps back into the shoes of the title mutant known as Wolverine. Source
  • Tom Brady: The Movie? Fans divided and foes say they'll pass

    Entertainment CTV News
    BOSTON -- Tom Brady: The Movie? A new book and a major motion picture are in the works about the New England Patriots' star quarterback and the "Deflategate" suspension he overcame to earn an unprecedented fifth Super Bowl ring. Source
  • Iranian director to send prominent proxies to Oscars

    Entertainment CTV News
    TEHRAN, Iran -- An Oscar-nominated Iranian director has announced two prominent Iranian Americans will be representing him and his film "The Salesman" at the upcoming Oscars ceremony, because of a currently-suspended travel ban issued by President Donald Trump. Source