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."


Latest Entertainment News

  • Aretha Franklin cancels concerts due to doctor's orders

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK - Aretha Franklin is cancelling two upcoming concerts on doctor's orders. The Queen of Soul's management team says in a statement Friday that Franklin will not perform March 25 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, New Jersey. Source
  • Hedley singer Jacob Hoggard investigated by Toronto police

    Entertainment CTV News
    Toronto police are investigating Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard after a series of sexual misconduct allegations surfaced. No charges have been laid and police will not reveal what allegations they are probing. Toronto police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray confirmed that the Sex Crimes Unit is involved in the ongoing investigation. Source
  • Canadian DJ Datsik cancels tour amid sexual misconduct allegations

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- Electronic musician Datsik has cancelled his upcoming shows after multiple sexual misconduct allegations were levelled against him by anonymous users on social media. The Kelowna, B.C., native issued a statement on Facebook saying he planned to back out of his scheduled performances, which included stops in Toronto and Laval, Que. Source
  • 'I hope to be back with more stories to tell:' actor Irrfan Khan diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumour

    Entertainment CBC News
    Indian actor Irrfan Khan, whose roles in Hollywood films such as Slumdog Millionaire, The Amazing Spider-Man and Life of Pi have brought him fame, has been diagnosed with a tumour and is travelling overseas for treatment, he said on Friday. Source
  • Bollywood singer Daler Mehndi sentenced to jail after human trafficking conviction

    Entertainment CBC News
    A popular Indian pop singer was convicted of human trafficking and cheating Friday by a court that found he took money to pretend people were in his performance troupe so they could get jobs in North America. Source
  • Sean Bean on his many deaths and 'Game of Thrones' legacy

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Sean Bean is as famous for his rugged looks and thick northern British accent as the many creative ways in which he dies onscreen. He's been stabbed, shot, chased off a cliff, tossed off a satellite dish, beheaded, exploded, killed by arrows, and drawn and quartered in everything from the Bond movie "Goldeneye" to "Game of Thrones" and "The Lord of the Rings. Source
  • Neil Young is writing a sci-fi novel called 'Canary'

    Entertainment CTV News
    The Canadian musician, who currently stars in the film "Paradox," told Rolling Stone magazine that he is working on a science-fiction novel called "Canary." The novel is about a power company worker who discovers corruption in his firm and wants to expose it. Source
  • Popular Indian singer convicted of trafficking jobseekers to America

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW DELHI -- A popular Indian pop singer was convicted of human trafficking and cheating Friday by a court that found he took money to pretend people were in his performance troupe so they could get jobs in North America. Source
  • Movie reviews: 'Tomb Raider' reshapes Lara Croft character

    Entertainment CTV News
    TOMB RAIDER: 3 STARS The last time we saw archaeologist-adventurer Lara Croft on the big screen she looked like Angelina Jolie and was seen dunking a bad guy into a pool of acid, dissolving him and saving the world in the process. Source
  • Quebecor decides to not meet bid in Just For Laughs sale

    Entertainment CTV News
    MONTREAL - Quebecor Media has chosen to not exercise its right of first refusal in the sale of Just For Laughs, the comedy company said Thursday. A deal between the two firms gave the Montreal-based media conglomerate 12 days to make an offer equal to that of any potential competitor in the sale of Just For Laughs. Source