With a little creativity, and a whole lot of co-operation, English grad student David Hickey has made a very big deal out of A Very Small Something.
Hickey’s children’s book, A Very Small Something, is the story of Olive Bezzlebee, a young girl who lives in a town with the world’s biggest bubblegum factory. But, alas, Olive cannot blow a single bubble, and so she sets off to find a place where she and her bubble-free ways might belong.
In order to promote the book, Hickey and his colleagues put together an almost-as-entertaining-as-the-book trailer. And it was a Western effort all the way.
Movie trailers have been used by theatres after (hence ‘trailer’) and before films since 1913. However, the book trailer is a fairly recent phenomenon. Tracing its origin to a U.S. book convention in 2003, the first use of a book trailer was for Dark Symphony, a brooding romance by Christine Feehan featuring a relationship between a concert pianist and a vampire hunter.
That early effort looks a tad like a cross between an episode of Dark Shadows and late-night cable melodramas. But production values have come a long way in a short time. Although shown occasionally on television, the book trailer has grown and matured along with the Internet, the main outlet for today’s productions.
A Very Small Something’s trailer can be viewed at Vimeo.com, a book trailer sites.
For his book, Hickey hoped to capture a bit of the magic from the Mercer Mayer books and cartoons he grew up with. “The trailer itself is a bit nostalgic,” he admits.
His three-minute trailer takes the reader through the book, utilizing original music and quasi-animated illustrations from the book’s pages.
Beyond the innovation, the trailer represents a bit of Western collaboration.
Jason Noble, a recent graduate of the music program, wrote a score which was performed by Western students and recorded on campus by sound engineer Kevin Gorman, a Western alumnus. The piece is narrated by John Leonard, a Western English professor, whose commanding voice harkens back to the narrated children’s classics of the past.
Tara Murphy, previously a Ph.D candidate in English at Western before leaving academia for publishing, managed the creation of the book from start to finish.
At the time of the trailer’s production, the book wasn’t complete. So, contributions during the trailer’s development – a line here, a plot point there – started altering the book.
“Strange thing, once we started working on the trailer, it sort of started becoming not my book,” Hickey says. “It was really enriching.”
Overall, it was an experience Hickey chalks up to Western’s unique spirit of collaboration.
“There’s a sort of community, benevolence that goes into it,” Hickey says. “Only at Western.”