Show and Tell started at a a school in Gander, Newfoundland, when I asked the kids to help me make up a story.
Well the story they made up was about finding a baby in the school and calling the principal, who yelled at the baby, a policeman who arrested the baby, a doctor who stuck the baby full of needles, a fireman who squirted water at the baby, and a nurse who threw the baby out the window and finally a mother who came and took the baby home.
I was interested in this story. I knew I couldn’t make it into a book the way it was, but the kids really seemed to enjoy having the baby get into trouble. So I kept telling it and telling it and telling it and it started to change a lot.
Finally, it got mixed up with another story I had about a little girl who went to a doctor and the doctor kept trying to stick her with bigger and bigger needles.
I had made this one up for my daughter Julie when she first went to get her allergy shots.
She said that she was going to be very brave and that it would be no problem; but when the doctor actually pulled out the needle, Julie screamed and ran out the back door of the doctor’s office and I had to chase her around the doctor’s backyard and tackle her like we were playing football.
Well I carried her back in and I had two nurses hold her still while the doctor gave her an allergy shot.
When she was done with that I thought she could use a needle story so I made up this story about a bigger and bigger needle. Well that story got mixed up with the story about finding a baby at school.
Anothr big change came after about 5 years of telling. I wanted to make up a story about a kid and I said “What’s new with you?” and he said “I have a new baby. A new baby brother.”
And all of a sudden it struck me that of course the baby in Show and Tell should be the young sibling of somebody in the class.
With that the story finally settled down and became the story pretty much like the story that’s in the book.
By that time it was quite unclear who should be in the story because so many people had been involved in making it. I decided to use two kids who live down the street from me named Sharon and Ben. They play with my kids all the time.
When it came time to actually do the book, Annick Press asked me to change around the ending a little bit.
It turned out that Michael Martchenko could do some neat things with the pictures that I couldn’t do while I was storytelling. When I told the story it ends with the principal going “WAAA, WAAA, WAAA” because he is going to get a needle. But if you read the book you will see that it goes on from there.
But all the last couple of pages of the book wouldn’t work without the pictures. So when I tell the story I don’t use that part at all.