The Boy Who Became a Hotel

Published on 25 August 2023 at 22:48

The picture on the left was created as a 4-page foldout for my book, on the right, "The Boy Who Became a Hotel." The story builds through a number of experiences, joining with the spirits of animals that the boy, Sam, meets in the forest and jungle.

The climax of the story is when he gives his life to the animals and grows into an enormous animal shelter, rather like a Buddha statue. From his hair come flames that make clouds, from which rain falls into the jungle. Flowers grow and are brought by the animals to the new Hotel, where they will be protected and live happily ever after.

This miracle is the crux of the story. It comes as the second to last of the pictures. The last picture shows all the animals living in the hotel, having a grand old time.

The first editor I took it to was Bill Martin Jr., a month later. The appointment with him was on my birthday. Sidney Omar in his book on Astrology said that on this particular day I would get all my dreams fulfilled. I was feeling like I had an unlimited fountain of wishes about to face the most generous genie in history!   I usually took just two books to show an editor. I have visited one hundred companies. That day, what the heck, I took all six of my illustrated books.

Bill kept them for three months. Yes, the perfect way to keep me tortured with suspense.

I was working two jobs, 80 hours a week. I decided that it could take me six years to accumulate the money I would need to live for the rest of my life in rural Franconia/Bavaria where I had lived in the US Army. I was looking forward to a life of serenity and tranquility German style!

Eventually, Bill called me to come to his office after regular hours because of my work schedule. Whew, finally a call back! But I had to sandwich our appointment between my two jobs. As I crossed Park Avenue, my favorite street in New York City, I looked down at that road in the clear magical colors of autumn sunset and said to myself, "This will never look the same to me again."

Then Bill bought all my books. It was exactly the amount of money that I had figured would be enough money to live forever.

Park Avenue never did look the same again and no, reality check, the money was not enough to live forever. I stayed in New York City and have never returned to Franconia/Bavaria again though I love it in memory of my army years when I discovered myself as an artist.

When the story was selected by Holt Rinehart and Winston (H, R & W) for inclusion in a textbook, which was scheduled to be widely used throughout the United States and even other countries, only the first page of the foldout could be included. I had wanted this book to be separately published with the foldout included. This could have been done at the time it was written. Frankly, the pay was exceptionally good, and I needed the money. Blame me.

This piece was my favorite among several hundred I made in six books that H, R & W purchased for their reader anthologies for each of the primary grades, edited by Bill Martin Jr., a very well-known editor of textbooks who had done over three hundred books. The books were published from 1970-1973.

In 1976, The International Children's Book Fair in Bologna, Italy invited me to show illustrations at their fair. These illustrations would be published in "Illustratori di Libri per Ragazzi," Illustrators of Children’s books ‘76.

My treasured picture got a full-page printout, not quite the size that the foldout would have been but good enough. The Italian color printing and excellent quality of paper made the picture better than the original watercolor that I sent. A member of the jury wrote on the margin "Sono Imaginni," which my Italian friend translated into "Very Imaginative." I was pleased then and am still happy now these many years later.

There is also a pale, almost ghostly feeling to the picture. In fact, I had only six days to illustrate this book. I had $10 to eat that week and then $5 to run to Macy's Department Store and get a Christmas job and live until my first weekly paycheck. Indeed, desperate times produce miracles! The foldout was the final picture I made.

I have tried to tell you why this particular illustration has meant so much to me for all these years. I AM PROUD TO ANNOUNCE AND INTRODUCE you to my initial paperback book published and for sale on Amazon! THE BOY WHO BECAME A HOTEL: 9798858300816: ELLS, JAY

This is the first of my twelve books being prepared for publication.

The book is now for sale on the worldwide market. The digital translation of the illustrations, color and book design are done by my good friend, programmer and technical genius, and fellow artist himself, nurse extraordinaire Jesus Salvacion, to whom I am incredibly grateful. I hope that you will join me on this journey. Exciting times ahead!


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Karen mazza
9 months ago

Love this story