August 14


Trailer Reveal: Potato Pants! by Laurie Keller

Hello, everyone! What a spud-tastic honor it is to have the book trailer for my upcoming picture book, Potato Pants!, revealed here at the Nerdy Book Club! It was shown in July at Nerd Camp but this is the first time it will be shared online. In Potato’s words: “EEEEEE!” (translation: WOOHOO!).


The writing process is always a “wild” ride for me from the time I begin a story to the time I finally finish and Potato Pants! was no different. It all started when a conversation between a pickle wanting pants and a snooty boutique owner who was not being very helpful popped into my head. It made me laugh so I dropped everything to start jotting down their dialogue. The next day I ran it by my editor who said, “PICKLE PANTS?” I don’t think so!”


So fast forward six or so years after several failed attempts using substitute non-pickle characters, I decided a potato could take the pickle’s place with just as many opportunities for fun puns and wordplay while being much less offensive to editors. I jumped in with both feet and worked for months trying to build the story from the slapstick style (which I AM a big fan of) and gag-line ending it had to one with a bit more starch and substance.


I turned the story inside-out and upside-down but nothing was working until one day while standing in the kitchen making lunch (no, not potatoes), the solution came to me: swap the snooty boutique owner for a menacing eggplant who gave Potato some trouble the day before and now––on the one and only day Potato Pants are available––poor, scared Potato is stuck outside the store when he spies that eggplant inside waiting for him. I didn’t have the entire storyline figured out but this new direction seemed like it could work! I got so excited I started doing the robot. I don’t even know how to DO the robot, but that just goes to show you how excited I was. I decided that the opening scene should naturally be Potato doing the robot, since he was equally as fired up about the possibility of getting Potato Pants as I was about figuring out my story.


But as it developed and “doing the robot” became a more integral part of the story than I had planned, it dawned on me that kids these days might not even know what that meant. I saw Michael Jackson and his brothers do the robot to their song, Dancing Machine for the first time in the early 70s on Soul Train––but is it even a thing anymore? It was critical that I find out.


I had the perfect test group with several school visits in the coming weeks so I bought a portable blue tooth speaker, loaded my phone with some funky robot-inducing dance music and asked them, “Do you guys know what it means to do the robot?” Hands shot up in the air so I asked for 5 or 6 volunteers to come up front to demonstrate and sure enough, to the delight of their classmates and especially me, they all started doing the robot!


So, in a nutshell (or a potato skin in this case), that’s my wild writing journey for Potato Pants! As it turned out, it wasn’t just about Potato and his quest for Potato Pants. He also learned a little something about misunderstandings (“What?!”) and even forgiveness (“As IF!”). I hope you enjoy it. Oh, and I encourage you to try doing the robot because it’s fun to do and as I found out, it’s definitely still a thing!


P.S. I’m guessing I now hold the record for “Using the word POTATO the most times in a Nerdy Blog Post”. I clocked in at 15. I dare anyone to beat that.


Laurie Keller is the bestselling author-illustrator of many books for kids, including Arnie the Doughnut; Do Unto Otters; The Scrambled States of America; Open Wide: Tooth School Insideand Bowling Alley Bandit, Invasion of the Ufonuts, and The Spinny Icky Showdown, books one, two, and three in the Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut chapter book series. She lives on the shores of Lake Michigan.