Leaving Room for Serendipity

By Carol Hinz
Editorial Director, Millbrook Press

I love to plan ahead, and there’s nothing I like better than sticking to a plan. This trait generally serves me well, as making books requires a good deal of planning. Yet every so often, bookmaking also requires flexibility and a willingness to take advantage of a pleasant surprise.

One of Millbrook’s new releases for this spring is Garbage Helps Our Garden Grow: A Compost Story. We began with text by Garbage Garden coverLinda Glaser explaining how composting works for a child’s point of view. Shelley Rotner agreed to take photographs for the book, and I sent her a list of photo ideas. Shelley found a family willing to be photographed throughout the year so that she could document their gardening and composting. (She began in October 2008 and photographed them through October 2009.)

The book’s original text included a mention of putting a jack-o’-lantern in the compost pile after Halloween, which Shelley photographed. Much to everyone’s surprise, seeds from the pumpkin sprouted in the compost pile the following spring. As soon as Shelley found out, she photographed the family carefully removing the sprouts from the compost pile and planting them in their garden.

We hadn’t allotted any space in the book for this event, but Linda, Shelley, and I were all excited by it. We had to make room! Here are the resulting pages of the book.

Garden p. 22 Garden p.23 There’s much more to tell about this book, but you’ll have to wait until a little closer to Earth Day to hear more.