A MIND IN THE GUTTER by Deborah Freedman


I’m obsessed with books. Obviously. I’m in the club, after all, and isn’t an obsession with books our only membership requirement?


I do read eBooks, but like so many members of our tribe, my husband and I also have actual books in every room of our house, piles of them, as though they have to be there hold up the walls. As though they ARE our walls. Even if we had enough shelves (we don’t), we would still keep those piles of art, story, poetry… read and unread, at arm’s length. We need them there. They inspire us. They connect us to each other and to readers like you.


What a wonderful object, the book! I love that I’m allowed to tell stories with every inch of it. When writing and illustrating I like to think about the whole package, about everything that makes a book a book and what it means to the reading experience: like the jacket, the cover beneath, endpapers, pages that turn, the gutter. The gutter —where those pages meet and are stitched together. Only ‘real’ books have gutters. Which to me has always felt symbolic, full of possibilities. So the question, “How could I play with the gutter?” is one that bounced around in my head for years. And then one day, other questions began to bump into it…


What if a story began with the main character in the gutter? And then what if that character stayed in the gutter and wouldn’t come out? Why was the character in the gutter in the first place? Was he hiding from something? Was he being stubborn? Or afraid? Or was he…


happiest between the pages of a book?


Friends, may I introduce you to Shy?


He would very much like to join the Nerdy Book Club.


xo Deborah



Shy was happiest between the pages of a book.



He liked to read about once upon a time… and in a land far away… by the edge of the sea…

and stories like that.



Shy’s favorite books were about birds.

Birds the color of jewels…
Birds who flew faster than wind… Birds who could chirp a thousand melodies…

But Shy had never actually heard a bird. None of his books could sing.



Then one day, a REAL bird trilled by…






Deborah Freedman is the sometimes shy, sometimes brave author and illustrator of several picturebooks for children, including Blue Chicken, The Story of Fish & Snail, and By Mouse & Frog. Her newest book, Shy, will be released on September 27 by Viking Children’s Books. Deborah lives in a quiet house in Connecticut, where she happily reads and draws and listens to birds sing. You can learn more about her at www.deborahfreedman.net.