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

  • Drake says he had 'real fear' of attacks during European tour

    Entertainment CTV News
    Attacks such as the deadly bombing that killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England were a "real fear" that was "discussed frequently" while touring in Europe, Canadian rap star Drake said Tuesday. Source
  • Javier Bardem on the pressure of playing a villain in Pirates of The Caribbean 5: 'You don't want to f--- it up'

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    BEVERLY HILLS — Javier Bardem continues to burnish his rep as one of cinema’s great villains. His ghastly (and ghostly) Captain Salazar in Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is a monstrous spectre, hell-bent on revenge and prone to drooling black squid ink when he speaks. Source
  • ‘Baywatch’ stars Zac Efron and Alexandra Daddario say boobs will bring people to the theatre [Video]

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    If you like the idea of a shirtless Zac Efron, the Rock and boobs — yes boobs — all coming together to bring you a raunched-up version of a ‘90s TV staple, you needn’t look further than Baywatch. Source
  • Roger Moore: from Saint to 007

    Entertainment CTV News
    British actor Roger Moore was never one to boast about his acting ability but then the facts spoke for themselves -- he played James Bond in more films than any other man. Known for his ironically raised eyebrow and deadpan quips, Moore's take on the suave superspy was more tongue-in-cheek than that of his manly predecessor Sean Connery. Source
  • Jury selection enters 2nd day in Bill Cosby sex assault case

    Entertainment CTV News
    PITTSBURGH -- Jury selection resumed Tuesday in Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial as prosecutors and the defence seek to fill out a panel of 12 jurors and six alternates in a case that has attracted worldwide publicity. Source
  • 7 people now seated on jury in Bill Cosby's sex assault case

    Entertainment CTV News
    PITTSBURGH -- Two more jurors were chosen Tuesday to serve on the panel that will hear Bill Cosby's sexual assault case, bringing to seven the number so far agreed upon by the prosecutors and defence team. Source
  • Roger Moore, former 'James Bond', dead at 89

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    British actor Sir Roger Moore has died aged 89. The James Bond actor passed away in Switzerland on Tuesday following a short battle with cancer, his family announced on his official Twitter page. “It is with a heavy heart that we must announce our loving father, Sir Roger Moore, has passed away today in Switzerland after a short but brave battle with cancer. Source
  • Ariana Grande says she is 'broken' after Manchester bombing

    Entertainment CTV News
    Pop star Ariana Grande has broken her silence about the horrific bombing that killed at least 22 concert-goers and injured around 60 others after her concert in Manchester, England on Monday night. The 23-year-old American singer tweeted a message to her followers at nearly 3 a.m. Source
  • Sir Roger Moore dies at 89

    Entertainment CTV News
    Photos Source
  • Sir Roger Moore, star of 7 James Bond films, dies at 89

    Entertainment CTV News
    LONDON -- Roger Moore, the suavely insouciant star of seven James Bond films, has died in Switzerland. He was 89. The British actor died Tuesday after a short battle with cancer, according to a family statement posted on Moore's official Twitter account. Source