If you have read one of the previous Stories about my Stories, in particular, how The End of the Beginning came about, you’ll find reference to me visiting my good friend, Avon.
Avon and his wife lived in North Brookfield, Massachusetts. Artists, they purchased North Brookfield’s old railway station, and converted it into their working studio. In this studio hung a large, old sign that simply read “George P. Upham.”
Even as I knew about this charming place, those were the years when I was an avid collector and reader of old children’s books. I would, in time, amass more than three thousands of them. [They are now part of the University of Connecticut’s research children’s book collection.] I combined my knowledge of North Brookfield and those highly morally charged and absurd Nineteenth Century tales to create this book, the title, plot and style of writing imitative of children’s books of the period.
There was another element. At the time my mother was quite ill. At some point she said to me, “I’d wish you would write something that would make me laugh.” That request was part of my creative process.
The book was also the first children’s book illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky. As for the original illustrations, I was told that they had been left on the publisher’s desk where, one evening they fell to the floor. That night they were scooped up by the cleaning staff and all tossed away.
The book went on to become nominated for “Best Children’s Mystery of the Year” by the Mystery Writers of America.