Monday, December 29, 2014

Author Interview: Connor Boyack (The Tuttle Twins and the Miraculous Pencil)

Today I'm happy to have Connor Boyack here on the blog to answer a few questions about his new book THE TUTTLE TWINS AND THE MIRACULOUS PENCIL (with illustrator Elijah Stanfield). Connor Boyack is president of Libertas Institute, a public policy think tank in Utah. He is the author of several books along with hundreds of columns and articles championing individual liberty. Connor's work has been publicly praised by national figures such as Ron Paul, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Tom Woods, and many others.

Why did you decide to help introduce children to the concept of liberty in a fresh way?

I have two young children, and I was looking for books I could provide them to teach them what liberty is and what it actually looks like. There was nothing! There's material to teach kids about some history, or about the Constitution, but the foundational principles were missing. Being an entrepreneur I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and fill the need myself.

What are the most important principles of liberty you are trying to teach?

Our first book, The Tuttle Twins Learn About the Law, goes to the basics—what are rights, why are they important, why we organize into a government to protect them, and why that government should not violate our rights. This second book, The Tuttle Twins and the Miraculous Pencil, teaches children about the free market. Over time we'll end up with 8-10 books in the series, each touching on a different aspect or idea so that parents will, when we're done, be able to provide their children a comprehensive (though simplified) overview of these issues.

How can parents or educators use this book to help kids understand the economy?

Economics can get really complex, but the basic idea is that you and I and everybody else buy and sell goods and services to improve others' lives while trying to improve our own. The key takeaway is that we should be free to do so—able to interact with others, exchange with who we want, and find opportunities and relationships that facilitate mutually beneficial agreements. The story in the book shows how this happens on a global scale for creating something as simple as a pencil, and really exposes the kids to thinking about everything around them in a much different light.

Why did you choose twins as the protagonists of the series?

I wanted there to be both a boy and girl character so any kid could relate, and since I have a boy and girl, I modeled the characters after the personality traits of my own children.

What inspired the idea of a miraculous pencil?

We knew that we wanted to do a book about the free market for our second book, and quickly settled on the pencil story because of an essay called "I, Pencil" by Leonard Read, who founded the Foundation for Economic Education. It's a short read and tells the same idea that we're telling the kids about through a fun story of a field trip to a factory.

How did you connect with your illustrator?

Elijah and I have known each other for several years, and a couple years ago we were at a conference together when he mentioned that we should work together on a project some time. Later that year I got the idea for our first book, approached Elijah, and he was totally on board—we have both been very inspired by The Law, a book written by Frédéric Bastiat, and so it became the basis for our first book in the series. He's amazing at his craft, and we get tons of positive comments from kids and parents alike about the quality and detail of the illustrations.

What degree of collaboration do the two of you have on this project?

I work on the story with input from Elijah, then he begins the drawings with input from me. He proceeds to refine the drawings, color them, etc., and then I deal with typesetting, layout, printing the book, distribution, marketing, and sales. It's a ton of work, but we are really motivated by the reviews and notes of appreciation we get from parents who (like myself) have been looking for material like this, but hadn't been able to find it anywhere.

What can we expect to see next from the Tuttle twins.

We're going to produce one or two books a year until we end up with 8-10 books. We haven't yet decided on which book we'll do next, but we have several options. Of course, we're always open to input from our readers!


Thanks so much for visiting my blog!

Don't forget to check out the Tuttle Twins official website!!!

The Miraculous Pencil can be purchased at Amazon!

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