The Children’s Book Review | September 10, 2018
Andy Gutman is a songwriter and a dreamer who tries to see the beauty in the world. He is the proud parent of Riley Claire, husband to Lesley Gutman, and the author of Charlie the Caterpillar. A self-described boring businessman by day, the Detroit, Michigan father unleashes his creative side at night while the world is asleep. He is also the author of Pop Lullaby, a gentle lullaby, and has written and produced numerous musical pieces, including song accompaniments to his children’s books.
The Children’s Book Review: In your first well-received book, Charlie the Caterpillar (2017), a sweet caterpillar discovers what makes him unique and special. What was it that inspired you to write this particular story?
Andy Gutman: The inspiration was a conversation with my family. My daughter was discussing caterpillars and wondering what went on in the cocoon. The thought she had was a fashion show, trying on different kind of wings. This turned into a song written for my daughter that was more about self-confidence and believing there is magic and something special in all of us.
Can you share one highlight from Charlie and the Caterpillar?
One of my favorite pages:
It doesn’t matter what suit you wear
Everybody deserves a chance –
It doesn’t matter what suit they wear
What has been the best reaction from a reader, so far?
The reaction from readers has been incredibly positive.
People seem to enjoy the positive messaging in the book. Charlie seems to resonate with self-confidence they are trying to teach their children.
The book received multiple 2018 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, a prestigious national book contest recognizing authors for excellence in writing and publishing—a rewarding feat for a first-time author. How did this make you feel?
While I try not to put too much emphasis on reviews – positive or negative – there is something gratifying about winning such a prestigious award. While my primary customer, my daughter, likes the book, it is nice to know from a non-biased source that the book has some merit. I was honored and humbled by the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards.
There is also a companion song to Charlie the Caterpillar that you created. How do you imagine readers using both the picture book and the song together?
The companion song is a fun way to get children energized by the book and the music. When I do book readings I almost always bring a dance instructor who teaches children The Charlie Dance while the song plays. It gets them on their feet and helps them feel a part of the story!
With your passion for songwriting, you also work with various artists who sing and produce the more than 300 songs you’ve penned. How does song writing differ to picture book writing?
Songwriting has become the basis for the books. Each one almost always starts as a song and then becomes a book. As a songwriter, my goal is to create something catchy and memorable and then see if translates well to a picture book.
You had a love of books, reading and writing that began early on. At what age did you consider yourself a reader and a writer? Who or what do you think inspired this love of words?
I started reading early. My mother read to me every night as a child, which is so important in early development. I was proficient in reading by the time grade school rolled around, because of the amount of time my mother spent. I became enamored with reading and loved the storytelling of early books. My father also was an educator, an English teacher and administrator. He instilled in me a passion for reading and writing. I loved writing at an early age, but really started to write poetry, stories and songs in high school and that stayed with me.
What was the last book you read? What are you reading now? What will you read next?
In my business life I love learning and teaching leadership. The latest book I have read is Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott, which was gifted to me by my strategic coach. My daughter is a Throne of Glass book series reader and her love of those books has made them intriguing to me, so I am diving into those as well. Of course, Patrick Lencioni is my favorite business writer so you can always find one of his books close by me.
By day you’re a children’s book author who serves as president of a metro Detroit-based commercial real estate company with holdings scattered across the country; by night you’re awake in the wee hours letting your creative juices flow. These are two pretty different vocations. Does your day job ever inspire your nighttime creativity? And when do you sleep?
I think creativity should be a part of everything you do (except perhaps accounting or other financial areas). I think that a lot of companies stagnate because they always do the same thing the same way. I like to incorporate process and procedure update groups, disruption divisions and other committees to think creatively at my day job. Of course, when I get home from work I am still wound up and music, writing and other creative areas allow my mind to keep working until I am wound down enough to sleep.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about Charlie and the Caterpillar, your writing, or yourself?
I want to share that my book “Even” is in stores in September and the next Charlie the Caterpillar book will be out in the winter!
Written by Andy Gutman
Publisher’s Synopsis: When Charlie the Caterpillar looks in the mirror, all he sees is what’s missing. But with the help of some caring and colorful friends, he begins to learn it’s what inside that counts.
The book’s lively illustrations in vibrant colors bring the story to life. Its lyrical words work for both reading silently and aloud.
The accompanying contemporary “Charlie the Caterpillar” song, also written by Gutman, is available on iTunes, Spotify and SoundCloud and is sure to have children and their parents tapping their toes, too (soundcloud.com/drewgut)!
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing, LLC | 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1457560347
Learn more about the author and book here: Andy Gutman Turns His Creative Visions Into Two Children’s Books
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