Stephanie Sokol for The Oakland Press
Kelly DiPucchio wants to show the world that picture books aren’t just for
DiPucchio, 48, knows a wide audience can enjoy and benefit from reading art-filled stories.
“Picture books are ageless — I dislike age ranges on books,” DiPucchio says. “Whether you’re 1 or 100 years old, you can enjoy a picture book.”
With the release of the Rochester native’s most recent story, “Everyone Loves Bacon,” at the end of August, she has proof that adults enjoy them just as much as kids.
“The fun part of this book is seeing both kids and adults responding to character and finding it funny,” says DiPucchio, who now lives in Macomb Township. “Even my agent, a vegetarian, loved the story. It’s quite possibly the best and worst thing I’ve ever written. It’s been interesting because bacon lovers fall into all categories of ages — a lot of adults have been buying the picture book for bacon lovers they know.”
DiPucchio’s love of picture books rejuvenated when she started reading to her own children. She was looking to switch careers so she could work from home, so she decided to write stories.
While DiPucchio has had 19 books published, with more in the works, it took time and persistence to get to where she is today.
After six years of writing, reading and submitting her works to publishers, and facing 150 to 200 rejection letters, DiPucchio got an agent. Her first book, “What’s The Magic Word,” was picked up by Harper Collins in 2001.
When DiPucchio is putting a story together, inspiration comes from all around her. Everyday life, parenting and watching her own kids were the original source, but she says she gets a lot of ideas just observing the world.
“My job is always interesting, and always changing — each book is unique,” DiPucchio says. “My body of work is very diverse. All of the books are different and the art reflects that. The illustrators are chosen to match the text.”
Among her works, two books, “Grace for President” and “The Sandwich Swap,” are New York Times best sellers. Both stories were special to DiPucchio.
“Grace for President” tells the story of a young girl questioning why no girl has run for president at her school.
In addition to telling the story of Grace’s candidacy at school, the book talks in depth about the election process. DiPucchio says she has heard from teachers who use it to teach their students about government — even high-schoolers.
Through its “Teach A Girl to Lead” project, The Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University plans to send copies of the book to every woman governor, member of Congress and state legislator in America, to share at their local elementary schools in 2016.
DiPucchio’s other New York Times best seller, “The Sandwich Swap,” shares one of the Queen of Jordan’s childhood stories.
DiPucchio met with the Queen to fictionalize her memories into a book, which tells a story of tolerance and cultural differences. “The Sandwich Shop” ended up being published in more than six different languages, and shown on “Good Morning America” and “Oprah.”
“It’s very surreal,” DiPucchio says.
Some of her books have also been interpreted theatrically. “Zombie in Love” premiered as a musical in Portland, Ore., in 2014, and “Grace for President” will be performed on stage in North Carolina next year.
In addition to her recent bacon book, DiPucchio has three books set to be published in 2016: “One Little, Two Little, Three Little Children,” “Dragon was Terrible” and “Everyone Loves Cupcake.”
While putting the stories together and seeing them published has been exciting for her, DiPucchio says one of her favorite parts of her work is sharing the stories with children.
“I go to schools and talk to kids about books, talk about humor, poetry, creative nonfiction and working with the queen,” DiPucchio says. “It’s been a really wonderful career, and I love it just as much today as 20 years ago, when started on this path.”