Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Book Birthday for Enzo Races in the Rain . . . with a Giveaway!

Yes, good dog, Enzo! Come here, boy. . . that's a good puppy. . .  do you wuv your Mr. Piggy-wiggy?

Oh. . . *cough*. . . I didn't realize you were here. Ahem, right then. This is Enzo! Isn't he cute? Say hi, Enzo!


Good boy!

You're probably wondering why I'm wearing this birthday hat. We're throwing Enzo a party! A book birthday party! Enzo Races in The Rain, the all new picture book starring Enzo, the lovable pooch from Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in The Rain, is officially out in the world TODAY!

And . . .  as a special treat, we have co-creators Zoë B. Alley and R.W. Alley—who developed the book based on Garth's Stein's character and story—with us today! They've generously provided a signed copy of Enzo Races in The Rain for one lucky fan of The Little Crooked Cottage! There are several ways to enter the giveaway:

1. Leave a comment about a beloved pooch in the comments section below.
2. Comment on our Facebook page.
3. Tweet this post with #EnzoGiveaway on Twitter.

That's worth wagging your tail for, is it not?

<<Bark, bark!>>  Enzo thinks so.

MP: Welcome, Alleys! Congratulations and happy book birthday!

ZBA: Why, thank you, Mr. Pig. Thanks for hosting us.

MP: This is such a cool project — tell me a little bit about how it came to you.

RWA: Well, the publisher (HarperCollins) was searching for an illustrator for this new series, which is different from looking for an illustrator for a stand-alone book. Since Garth Stein and Zoë and I share the same literary agency, though not the same agent, I was asked by the editor to sketch my image of what Enzo and his world might look like. Luckily, my drawings clicked with both author and editor, and I signed on to do the pictures. However, at that point, the picture book manuscript was still in flux. Knowing that Zoë is an accomplished author for children (here, ZBA replies, "Awwwwww!!!" modestly), both editor and agent asked us if we could work on the words, too. 

ZBA: What he said! (here, RWA says, "wait, aren't you an author?!") Yup -- I'm an author! Words are important . . . ok, so I'll use more of them here! In addition to what my dear husband has just replied, I would add that reading the adult novel (The Art of Racing in the Rain) helped me to visualize Enzo's world textually, and helped me to know that we could both co-author a really nice manuscript for this project.

MP: In the novel, Enzo is an endearing and believable canine narrator, but he's written for an older audience than the picture book set. What was it like adapting his voice and story for younger readers?

ZBA: Well, for me, writing for this younger picture book audience is basically how I think! (Perhaps I am actually just 5 years old at heart...??!!). So, I didn't really have to do too much cognitive thought (ooh, deep phrase!) on how I wanted to represent Enzo. His voice and story felt the same to me in either version -- is that weird?! Maybe, but I guess that's how my writing comes out through my hand.

RWA: I found the theme of the novel as conveyed through Enzo's personality was basically ageless.  Our task seemed to be to pare away the adult oriented bits of story and characterization, and focus on Enzo's quest for "home," which is pretty universal, and certainly something to which kids can relate.  The story in this first picture book introduces the reader to Enzo. The remaining three picture books in the series (maybe more, who knows...?!), will focus on other events in Enzo's life, which may go beyond the novel's story.

MP: Wait. . . did you say three more picture books?! That's great news! Look how happy Enzo is!

<<Bark, bark!>>

I love how you captured Enzo's voice. It's as if you guys speak "dog" just the way Enzo wishes he could speak human. Are you dog owners?

<<<ZBA and RWA laugh loudly>> While the book is dedicated to our daughter and son-in-law's dog, Minni, we have never had a dog. Neither of us did as kids, either! Huh! (Again, is this weird?!)

MP: Not really. I have never in my life owned a pygmy marmoset, and yet they gravitate towards me like I'm the marmoset whisperer. Go figure. Anyhoo, this one's for RW . . .  Did you have a model pooch for the project? What was some of your inspiration for the art?

RWA: In picturing Enzo, I took my clues from Garth Stein's description in the novel. I did many sketches, and even made a clay model of the dog. (ZBA:  he's a great sculptor, too!) I took to observing keenly dogs passing on the street. The aforementioned Minni, was also a useful model for movement, not size (she's a chihuahua!). For drawing style, I have always loved Garth Williams' (another Garth!) renderings in pen-and-ink of animals of all sorts, but especially dogs.

MP: Fascinating! You've collaborated on two other children's books, but this is the first time you've co-written a book. Tell us a little bit about how the writing collaboration worked? 

ZBA: Yes, working together to write was new for us. To date, I have been the word person; he the picture guy. While sharing in the writing process was different for us, it felt not unfamiliar, strangely. We have been married for 33 wonderful years and, as such, have spent much of that time together, at home, working and sharing life things.  Including our two lovely, now young adult, children! (Not to mean that we don't venture out into the world. We do, actually!) So, basically, we felt right at home (haha!) sitting next to each other on our couch and, well, writing! We felt comfortable creating together, and really complemented each other's styles. 

RWA: What she said!  But also, Zoë is great at creating voice for her characters, and this really allows the work to flow easily. I think one of the things that I add, is the idea of pacing and knowing what can be said through pictures instead of text. This allows us to get to the 32-40 page format that most picture books require. 

MP: What's next for you two?

RWA: Well, tonite, we are going out to Chan's to hear a blues guitarist, because we DO go out! Oh, you meant bigger picture? (haha!) I am writing and illustrating four books in a series that will begin publication next fall. And, there's Paddington, which is always ongoing, especially with the movie coming out this Christmas.

ZBA: He's funny, right?! Well, there are the three contracted additional Enzo picture books, of course. And, I have some stories out being reviewed by editors at this very moment...aaarrrgggghh! So, we'll see what's next for me!

MP: How exciting! We can't wait to read them all! And. . . when all your new books come out, please come back and visit us in the Cottage. We'll throw another party—with party hats! And balloons! Right, Enzo?

<<Bark, bark!>>

Enzo Races in The Rain
by Garth Stein
with Zoë B. Alley and R.W. Alley
illustrated by R.W. Alley
HarperCollins Publishers, 2014
ISBN: 978-0062295330

Meet Enzo the puppy, one very special mutt. Enzo knows he's different from other dogs. He's sure of it. But people never understand him when he barks, and it drives him crazy!

Life on the farm is pretty quiet -- except when he races the cars that come down the barn road. Because Enzo is fast!

But when Enzo meets a little girl named Zoë and her father, Denny, everything changes. Enzo embarks on an action-packed adventure as he makes the long journey from the farm to the city, discovers just how big the world is, and finds the family that was truly meant to be his.

Zoë B. Alley and R.W. Alley are the husband and wife author-illustrator team behind Enzo Races in the Rain (HarperCollins, 2014) There's a Princess In The Palace (Roaring Brook, 2010) and There's A Wolf At The Door (Roaring Brook, 2008).

RW Alley has illustrated well over one hundred board books, picture books, early readers and chapter books, including the Paddington Bear books by Michael Bond (HarperCollins). In 2010, he received a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Award for the illustrations for Pearl and Wagner: One Funny Day by Kate McMullan (Dial).
For twenty-six years, Zoë and RW Alley have lived in Barrington, Rhode Island, where they raised their two, now young-adult, children.


Praise for: There's a Princess In The Palace:

"Delightfully fractured even after reconstructive surgery, this run-on fairy tale would find itself on the shelf between War on Peas and One Hundred Years of Sillitude
a. if it would fit and
b. if it wasn't so much fun to read." —David Macauley

★“This will enter the rotation of bedtime favorites.” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED

★“Marvelous for anyone with a wry sense of humor, There’s a Princess in the Palace deserves a place in every library.” —School Library Journal, STARRED

★ “Within a graphic-novel format, the tales of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, the Frog Prince and the Princess and the Pea develop familial and hilarious interconnections while retaining the stories’ traditional structures…Smartly hysterical.” —Kirkus Reviews, STARRED


Garth Stein is the author of A Sudden Light, Raven Stole the Moon, How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secretsand The Art of Racing in the Rain.  The Art of Racing in the Rain has sold more than 4 million copies in 35 languages, and spent more than three years on the New York Times bestseller list.  It has inspired a Young Reader edition as well as a children’s picture book adaptation (2014), a stage adaptation by Book-It Repertory Theatre in Seattle, and is currently in development with Universal Studios for a major motion picture.

After spending his childhood in Seattle and then living in New York City for 18 years, Garth returned to Seattle in 2001, and lives there currently with his wife, three sons, and their dog, Comet.


1. Leave a comment about a beloved pooch in the comments section below.
2. Comment on our Facebook page.
3. Tweet this post with #EnzoGiveaway on Twitter.

* Winner will be announced next week! *


  1. I loved The Art of Racing in the Rain and did not know about this little pup Enzo! Looks wonderful!

    1. Thanks for for your comment JD. We love, Enzo too!

  2. I love the book and we named our son Enzo after that dog. Look forward to reading this version with him.

    1. We love this! And Enzo is a great name. Thanks for your comment, Stacy. :)