They Come from Real Life Experiences
The title for Who Ate the Gelato?! actually came from a real life experience with Benji…the Brittany Spaniel mix that belonged to my wife’s family when she was growing up. While house-sitting for my in-laws I took Benji to Baskin & Robbins for some mint chocolate chip ice cream (his favorite!.. long before it became known that you shouldn’t give a dog chocolate!) and when I returned to the car with a cup of ice cream for him and a cone with two large scoops for me, I heard kids and their parents sniggering and laughing from the next car…I couldn’t understand the source of their amusement until I looked over and caught Benji engulfing the top ball of ice cream from my cone…his mouth closed over it in absolute bliss until he discovered the price for this theft was a brain freeze…and a vacuum-lock on his mouth! He couldn’t open his jaws at all!
Panting and breathing like a locomotive and whining from his discomfort, I realized that I had to help this furry felon from his predicament…I wedged my finger into his mouth and wriggled it around that rubber-like gum until I made a small air-hole…steam escaped immediately and I heard a “thrrrooooopp!” as his mouth finally broke the vacuum-seal and he gulped in tons of air, tears still streaming from his eyes!
Now cut to the present day:
While working out different conceptual ideas for Who Ate The Gelato?!, I remembered the “Benji Incident” and decided it would not only make a great title for the book, but an excellent opening sequence for the kids to enjoy! Jasmine would play the guilty party, but how to break the vaccum-seal on her mouth? I remembered that Topo the mouse had previously shown acrobatic skills in There’s A Crazy Dog Under the Palace!, and so I devised a method by which he could not only show off his athletic prowess but also help Jasmine out of a tight spot! Topo would pole-vault using a tongue depressor, flip around in the air and land with the depressor wedged into Jasmine’s gums! He would then jump up and down, thereby breaking the seal and allowing Jasmine to open her mouth once again!
Simple, right?! But without Benji and his beloved mint chocolate chip ice cream, this idea may never have seen the light of day! I always tell kids during my school presentations to take note of the fun and eccentric events in their lives…you never know when you might find a seed that can sprout into a great idea!