Imagine a world where creatures stand approximately a gazillion feet tall and lights twinkle far away in the sky.
You've just put yourself in the shell of Polly, a freshly-hatched horseshoe crab.
Author and illustrator Bill Walton, 46, of Dover, who serves as artistic director for the Second Street Players in Milford, takes kids on an adventure under the sea and above it as they explore a huge world around them through the beady little eyes of a curious horseshoe crab in his new 88-page children's book, "Polly."
"Polly," which debuted two weeks ago on Amazon.com, is also available at Acorn Books and Forney's Too, both shops are located in Dover, as well as Barnesandnoble.com. The book is sold for $20 in stores and the price online varies.
Walton sat down with the Milford Beacon to discuss the story.
Q How would you describe the tale of "Polly?"
A She's a curious horseshoe crab who makes a fascinating discovery: she might be the first one to discover these strange creatures on the beach that stand upright and only have two feet and they do all these unusual things. She wants to learn as much as she can about them. But some of the creatures in the ocean don't have as much information about them, and some don't have the proper information, and think they might be dangerous and Polly should stay away from them. It's very much a role reversal with the attitude some people have towards horseshoe crabs; some people think they can sting you. I've heard people say "they're poisonous" or they have disease. Of course, none of these things are true. Aside from being a little sharp if you step on them, horseshoe crabs are relatively harmless. I mean, they won't even pinch you. Sure, they're scary looking when you flip them over, but they're actually one of the gentlest creatures on the planet.
Q How'd the idea for "Polly" come about?
A It really started with me drawing pictures of horseshoe crabs just because they're so iconic to Delaware. We all know what they look like and we've all see them. I do a lot of artwork and I started doodling. Then my daughter, Nolah, decided to take my sketchbook and show it to a theater friend of ours and said, "Look, my daddy drew horseshoe crabs!" And I'm like, "No, no, no, they suck! No, no, no. Let me draw you a better horseshoe crab." Then I drew a better one and I gave it to [my friend] as a gift. Then it started to come together. I thought, "I could do a children's book about them." I did research and saw there's really only a handful, maybe only five or six children's books about horseshoe crabs. One of them is very old and from the '50s or '60s.
Page 2 of 2 - Q What are some of the characters Polly meets along the way?
A There's Peg and she's the grumpy hermit crab. Peg is the one who tells Polly she should stay in the ocean and she shouldn't really mess around with these creatures with two feet. But when Polly pressures her, she eventually gives in and says, "Alight look, if you want answers you're going to have to talk to the great wise one and here's how you can find him and here's what you're going to have to do to get an answer from him.
Q Who's Ang, the eel?
A He's really just a one-shot character. He only gets one page. But he tells silly jokes. That actually comes from an Internet meme where someone said whenever you see an eel with its mouth open it looks like they just told you a joke and they're saying, "huh?, huh?, what do you think?"
Q Why did you feel now was the perfect time to write "Polly," your first-ever book?
A Now's better than ever — that's all I can say. It was possible, that's why. Kickstarter made it possible. My backers made it possible. [My opportunity to have] print-on-demand made it possible. I couldn't have done this 10 years ago.
Q Though you just released the book, do you have plans to pen another kid's story?
A I'm not sure. I actually had some ideas before this one for some children's books. I just got a new idea a while ago, but I have to get a story that really hits me right before I'll do it, and that's what happened here.