Reading is one of the most important things a child will ever learn. Being literate opens many doors, especially in the present times of Internet-driven, non-spoken, communication. Instilling an early love of books in children is a key way to get them interested in words and stories and, luckily, there are many publishers that create books intended for these purposes.
Although there are many children’s book publishers, few non-self-publishing establishments will accept work from authors who do not have an agent. The Canada-based “Gerbil Meets Mouse Publishing” is one of the rare locations that will review and even accept work from authors who do not have agents as long as those authors are willing to write for one of the company’s three ongoing book series—all of which happen to involve characters who are gerbils.
Gerbil Meets Mouse Publishing was founded in 2012 by Bailey J. Thomson who was only 19 years old at the time. Gerbil Meets Mouse Publishing’s mission is to create a line of children’s books featuring gerbils as prominent characters that educate, inspire and empower young people. The company aims to be a familiar and friendly publishing house that is well recognized in North America. Incidentally, the title “Gerbil Meets Mouse” is a clever play on words that conveys the idea of gerbils meeting computer “mice” and/or technology.
Recently I had the opportunity to interview Bailey J. Thompson about her company and she graciously shared her insights and experiences about working in the field of children’s publishing:
Q: What inspired the creation of Gerbil Meets Mouse Publishing?
It all started with a pet gerbil named Mocha who just loved to sit on my shoulder as I went about my day. One day, I happened to be tidying up parts of my parent’s basement when we discovered the old Victorian dollhouse my entire family built together. Immediately, my childhood dreams of one day being able to fit in that dollhouse and live my life within it came back. It didn’t take long for me to realize that while I, obviously, could not fit within the walls of the beautiful house, Mocha certainly could. That’s when all of the possibilities I once only imagined became possible for other children to enjoy.
Q: What is the main mission of Gerbil Meets Mouse Publishing?
I would like to be known as the publisher that created a series that stands out. Our signature is that all books are illustrated with photos of actual (very talented) animals on a green screen. I hope to create a series of books that touches children’s imaginations, creates memories, and ultimately inspires. On a business perspective, I hope that Gerbil Meets Mouse Publishing will become an outlet for new authors to contribute to the series of books, illustrators to share their artwork, and ultimately create a team of like-minded people with a similar vision.
Q: In terms of subject matter, what are Gerbil Meets Mouse books about and what inspired the ideas for them?
We have three series’ of books.
The “Gerbs in the House” series was inspired when my pet gerbil, Mocha, and I re-discovered the old Victorian dollhouse that my family and I build as a child. Immediately, I saw a series of books that featured Mocha and his son Petri living out their lives in the dollhouse I once dreamed of being small enough to fit within.
The “Melvin” series started basically because I had a gerbil named Melvin who didn’t fit into the “Gerbs in the House” series and I felt bad. One day, when Melvin was out, I discovered that he LOVED to wear hats. I started purchasing and creating any sort of small hat that I could find until I had enough for what would eventually become, “Melvin and the Metamorphose Hat”. As I was writing that book, I decided that Melvin’s books were to be a little different than the Gerbs in the House books in that they took place in his dreams, meaning ANYTHING could happen. I wanted to make Melvin powerful, inspiring, and dreamy.
The “EcoGerbs” series, which is still forthcoming, was inspired by my passion for the environment. I grew up, not wanting to be a publisher, or a writer, but an environmentalist. Soon, I realized, David Suzuki already had that job, and I needed to come up with something else. I hope, when the EcoGerbs series is created, that it will be a book that teaches children the reality of the environment and inspires them to make a difference. (http://ecogerbs.com/)
Q: What has been the most rewarding experience related to Gerbil Meets Mouse so far?
I have to say that most of it is rewarding. The first thing that comes to mind is getting to hold the first copy of a book in my hands for the first time. I thought the feeling would get old, but it never does. It’s like all that work, all those months, all the bumps on the road, all the feelings of success—did I mention all that hard work has come into one piece of artwork that I can now share with people? It’s exhilarating! :)
Another experience that really sticks in my mind was the moment when I first read author Lydia Lukidis’ book, “Gerbs in the House: The Dilly Dally Bedtime Routine.” I caught myself absorbed into the book, and laughing out loud, and so unbelievably proud because she got it. She was the first author that I chose to publish, the first person that understood my characters, and the first person that wrote a book for my (which I can now call our) series that I really, truly fell in love with.
And finally, the MOST rewarding experience is that look in a child’s eye when they flip through the book, and then look up at the gerbils in their aquarium and make the connection. It’s beautiful.
Q: What are Gerbil Meets Mouse’s ultimate and long-term goals for the future?
Ultimately, we are here to inspire, to share a story, to make a memory. We’re here because of that feeling you get when you’re 20 or 30 or 40 and you hear a line from a book you once read as a child and suddenly all the feelings come back because it stuck with you, changed you, inspired you, or just gave you that warm fuzzy feeling of being snuggled up with your mom.
Q: Are there any up and coming projects that you would like to mention?
We are working on many more up-and-coming books, authors, etc. I guess you’ll just have to stay tuned! :)
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