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

  • Celebrities join march for women's rights, encourage voting

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Demonstrators from Los Angeles to New York marched in support of female empowerment and denounced U.S. President Donald Trump's views on immigration, abortion, LGBT rights and women's rights on Saturday, the anniversary of his inauguration. Source
  • Ed Sheeran announces engagement

    Entertainment CTV News
    Ed Sheeran has become engaged to his girlfriend Cherry Seaborn, the British singer-songwriter announced Saturday. "Got myself a fiance just before new year. We are very happy and in love, and our cats are chuffed as well," he told his 18 million followers on Instagram. Source
  • Paul Bocuse, globe-trotting master of French cuisine, dies

    Entertainment CTV News
    PARIS -- Paul Bocuse, the master chef who defined French cuisine for nearly half a century and put it on tables around the world, a man who raised the profile of top chefs from invisible kitchen artists to international celebrities, has died at 91, French officials announced. Source
  • Is Woody Allen finished? Industry watchers, former fans raise question in wake of renewed allegations

    Entertainment CBC News
    Woody Allen may have never had to face sexual abuse allegations from his daughter Dylan Farrow in court, but in the increasingly important court of public opinion, he seems to be losing. This week, in her first televised interview, Dylan Farrow renewed her allegations of sexual assault by Allen, her adoptive father, when she was seven. Source
  • Prosecutors hope these 19 women can help convict Bill Cosby

    Entertainment CTV News
    PHILADELPHIA -- Prosecutors this week asked the judge in Bill Cosby's spring retrial to let jurors hear from 19 other women who say the entertainer drugged and molested them. They want to show that an alleged assault in 2004 that led to Cosby's only criminal charges was part of a five-decade pattern of drugging and harming women. Source
  • 'Call Me By Your Name,' 'Lady Bird' land GLAAD nominations

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Five feature films including "The Shape of Water" and "Call Me By Your Name" have been nominated for GLAAD Media Awards, one year after it found only two films to honour for gay-inclusive story lines and characters. Source
  • Kim and Kanye choose Chicago for their new baby's name

    Entertainment CTV News
    It's Chicago -- where Kanye West was raised -- as the name of baby No. 3 with Kim Kardashian West. Mom made the announcement Friday on her app without explanation. Chicago was born Monday, weighing in at 7 pounds, 6 ounces. Source
  • Producers Guild unveils anti-sexual harassment guidelines

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- The Producers Guild of America has ratified guidelines for combating sexual harassment in the entertainment industry, requesting that every film and TV production offer in-person harassment training and provide multiple ways for alleged victims to complain. Source
  • W5's intimate interview with Kiefer Sutherland about life, acting and music

    Entertainment CTV News
    There is a fake U.S. president in a fake Oval office, who understands the Canadian psyche. He goes by the name Tom Kirkman. Once a low level secretary, Kirkman was catapulted into the role of Commander-in-chief after a terrorist attack. Source
  • Montreal filmmaker at Sundance explores plight of tiny nation Kiribati

    Entertainment CTV News
    PARK CITY, Utah - Montreal's Matthieu Rytz hopes his first film, "Anote's Ark," will put the plight of the tiny Pacific Ocean island nation of Kiribati on the world's radar. The documentary premieres today at the Sundance Film Festival and focuses on a country that many do not know exists -- and might not for much longer. Source