02 April 2020

A Picture Book for Patriots Day

A couple of years ago, I did a specialized editorial job for Disney’s publishing wing.

The company contacted me because of my research into the start of the Revolutionary War and asked me to fact-check a picture book on the topic.

Most Wanted: The Revolutionary Partnership of John Hancock and Samuel Adams is written by Sarah Jane Marsh and illustrated by Edward Fotheringham. Earlier, they collaborated on Thomas Paine and the Dangerous Word, also from Disney.

On the day after OzCon 2018, a bunch of attendees made plans to go to Disneyland. I expected to go with them until I suddenly realized I’d had my fill of company and wanted to decompress in a library with a manuscript and my history sources. So instead of giving money to the Disney Corporation, I spent the day earning money from it with this job.

Most Wanted was published this week, just in time for the pandemic cancellation of the reenactment of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, which provides the book’s climax. That was bad luck for Marsh and Fotheringham, I thought. But as I was preparing this blog post, I realized the book had gone through another big change recently.

Powell’s was now listing Most Wanted as a Little, Brown title. Same with the Paine book. I had to reassure myself that my little story about Disney was accurate.

Then I remembered that in February the Disney Corporation sold a thousand children’s titles to Hachette, parent company of Little, Brown. Hachette was already distributing for Disney, so the supply chain is intact (except for the retail end, of course). There’s a lot of editorial and marketing shuffling going on, though.

I hope Most Wanted comes through the turmoil unscathed, the way Samuel Adams and John Hancock made it out of Lexington and to the Second Continental Congress.


Michael Booth said...

John, I actually didn't know you worked for Disney on a book. This is pretty impressive

J. L. Bell said...

I believe the company contacted me at Sarah Jane Marsh's recommendation since she had consulted my book and blog in her research.

The process of signing into Disney's worldwide vendor website is almost as complicated as becoming a federal contractor, and I don't recommend anyone undertake it lightly.