When we decided we wanted to write a children's book Tom and I spent a lot of time thinking about our main characters, the characters that evolved into Margaret Magee and her Robot, Morris. We had seen a lot of the modern cartoons and literature directed at children and we felt sad for today's kids.
A lot of what is out there is using a formulaic format that is made to grab kids attention and keep it. They focus on basic academic skills like learning your alphabet, numbers, and geography. These things are important, but Tom and I are children of the 80's we grew watching on shows like the Gummi Bears, DuckTales, and The Smurfs. We were broken hearted that there is a generation growing up without high adventure stories full of important life lessons, like accepting someone for who they are, and doing what is right even when it isn't easy. Children are smart, they are fully capable of pulling these ideas out of the actions of a character without being beaten over the head with a moral. We wanted our stories to be engaging to children and be something their parents could enjoy as well.
In the first story in our series, a dock robot sees a child in danger and breaks from what he is programed to do in order to protect her. This is a defining moment for both of them. She sees something in him that no one else sees, that he is more than his hulking exterior, and she makes him her friend. For Morris it takes longer for this change in himself to be fully realized, but when whether Morris should be allowed to exist outside of his designated place is thrown into doubt Margaret is there to champion him.
We wanted these characters to have a lot of depth. Margaret is small, but she has an amazing amount of strength. Morris seems impenetrable, but he can be very fragile. That is a lot to pack into 23 pages and only a few paragraphs of text. But it doesn't take much to tap into those universal truths. We all have the capacity to be strong, and weak, to see something beyond the surface in someone else and to stand up for what is right. It was easy to get those ideas in there without taking away from the story. The beautiful art work by Jeff Egli and coloring by his wife Sunda made these characters breath life, you can't help but love them.