Press Release: Biscuit Celebrates 20 Years
HarperCollins Children’s Books Celebrates
Biscuit’s 20th Anniversary
“Dear Alyssa Satin Capucilli, I think you should write a Biscuit book called, Biscuit Learns How to Read. Biscuit books are easy for me to read but that’s what makes reading fun.”
— Cami, an avid Biscuit fan
New York, NY (March 23, 2016)—HarperCollins Children’s Books celebrates an incredible milestone this year—the 20th anniversary of the cherished book series Biscuit. With over 75 titles and over 21 million books in print in 5 different languages, Alyssa Satin Capucilli’s Biscuit series continues to mesmerize generations of readers.
The idea of Biscuit was brought to HarperCollins in 1994 by Capucilli’s agent as a picture book, with illustrations by Pat Schories, but was soon reworked so that it could start the creation of a new section of the I Can Read! program, called Level 1 I Can Read! The first Biscuit book was published in 1996, and since then the franchise has helped over 20 million emergent children learn to read, and has over fifty books in circulation, including, Biscuit Finds a Friend, Bathtime for Biscuit, and Biscuit Builds a Treehouse. The series has since spawned picture books, board books, and novelty books, along with a new Level 1 I Can Read! book being released annually. Many fans have taken this small yellow puppy and his world into their hearts and their imaginations.
The idea for Capucilli’s children books came from personal experience, like so many great stories of the past. It was her daughter’s interaction while dog sitting a neighbor’s huge, rambunctious dog that ultimately lead her to write the first book. It was this inspiration as well as Capucilli’s drawing upon her childhood bond with literary characters, love of poetry, rhythm and music that crafted the world of Biscuit.
“Although there is much we hope to celebrate in the life of a young child, it is a particularly magical celebration when a child learns to read independently,” Capucilli explained in a personal letter. “Knowing that for the past twenty years, Biscuit has been even a small part of that lifelong celebration is humbling.”
ABOUT ALYSSA SATIN CAPUCILLI:
Alyssa Satin Capucilli is the author of the bestselling Biscuit books and many other beloved children's books. She grew up in Brooklyn, where she fell in love with reading, stating that her weekly trip to the public library were much anticipated. Capucilli now resides in a bookfilled home in HastingsonHudson, New York with her two children, Peter and Laura, her husband Bill, and of course the family dog, a lovable chocolate Labrador named Huckleberry, who she credits with being the inspiration for a lot of her work.
ABOUT HARPERCOLLINS CHILDREN’S BOOKS:
HarperCollins Children’s Books is one of the leading publishers of children’s and teen books. Respected worldwide for its tradition of publishing quality, awardwinning books for young readers, HarperCollins is home to many timeless treasures and bestsellers such as Charlotte’s Web, Goodnight Moon, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Where the Wild Things Are, The Graveyard Book and series including The Chronicles of Narnia, Ramona, Warriors, Pete the Cat, Fancy Nancy, Divergent, and The Selection. Consistently at the forefront of digital innovation, HarperCollins Children’s Books delights readers through engaging storytelling in all formats, including ebooks and apps. HarperCollins Children’s Books is a division of HarperCollins Publishers, which is the second largest consumer book publisher in the world, has operations in 18 countries, and is a subsidiary of News Corp (NASDAQ: NWS, NWSA; ASX: NWS, NWSLV). You can visit HarperCollins Children’s Books at www.harpercollinschildrens.com and www.epicreads.com and HarperCollins Publishers at corporate.HC.com.
Celebrating 20 years of Reading: How Biscuit Came to Be
by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
““In winter I get up at night And dress by yellow candlelight. In summer, quite the other way, I have to go to bed by day...”
So go the first lines of Bed in Summer by Robert Louis Stevenson. My well‐worn copy of A Child’s Garden Verses sits on my desk today, a tangible reminder of the love of language, poetry, story, and reading that was instilled at a very young age. I know this love of reading and my connection to characters as a reader was snugly in place when I sat down to write Biscuit, now celebrating its 20th year of publication.
Like so many writers, I drew upon events in my life, in this case watching my young daughter dog‐sit a neighbor’s huge, rambunctious dog. As I watched her interacting with the pup, I was struck by her patience and gentle nature. Most of all, I loved that she believed the dog understood every word she was saying. I was swept back into my own childhood where I faithfully envisioned myself in the world of my own favorite characters, Henry and Ribsy by Beverly Clearly, sustaining my imagination and my yearning for having a dog of my own. And when I sat down with notebook in hand to tell the story of Biscuit, I rekindled my childhood bond with characters, my love of poetry, my love of rhythm and music from many years spent as a dancer, and gave shape to what to me was a melodic conversation; a conversation between a child and her beloved pet. I envisioned Biscuit as a picture book, a lullaby actually, where the recurring “Time for bed, Biscuit!” would gently soothe and entice a puppy to settle down for the night, with the repetitive “woof, woof”
refrain serving as the gentle protest of a puppy or perhaps a child who was not quite ready to give up the fun of the day...yet. My agent sagaciously placed the manuscript for Biscuit into the hands of HarperCollins in July of 1994; by December of that very year I received a letter welcoming me to the venerable I Can Read family. Biscuit would be one of the titles to launch a new, younger level of I Can Read books: My First I Can Read. Pat Schories was chosen to illustrate the text, fully embracing the gentle and patient nature of the young child who always has one more hug and one more kiss for a beloved small yellow puppy.
Upon publication in 1996, I immediately began to receive mail from children, parents, and educators ‐‐ children were learning to read with Biscuit noting, “Biscuit is the first book I can read all by myself.” As an avid reader myself, I was compelled to write more. Going through my notes from that time, I did naively ask my agent if we might propose the idea of Biscuit as a series, still, I am quite sure that I never envisioned twenty years of stories would follow. My sage editor fortunately rejected the next offering, Bigger Biscuit, and Biscuit safely remained a small yellow puppy for the foreseeable future. Had Biscuit “grown up” as I intended, we would certainly not have been privileged to share the treasured world of emergent readers for twenty years hence! Instead our second story was Biscuit Finds a Friend. And whether our readers envisioned themselves as the puppy that joyfully splashes through the pond or the young child who mindfully returns a lost duckling to its home, the opportunity to create new titles was at hand. In our third adventure, Bathtime for Biscuit, I began to expand the world of this silly puppy, introducing his friend, Puddles. Within five short years of publication, and tremendous support from a devoted publisher and editors, there were plans for picture books, board books and novelty books, with a new My First I Can Read title, solidly welcoming emergent readers each year. Biscuit
became known to readers far and wide and in numerous languages, whether you read along with a “Woof, woof!” or a “¡Guau! ¡Guau!” or even “Hav, hav!” To date, there are over 75 titles and over 21 million books in print in many languages.
In any language, early childhood is often filled with rhythms, chants, and lullabies, often serving as the very basis for early literacy. That Biscuit’s “lullaby” was welcomed by now generations of readers, is still cause to pinch myself...honestly. And while being even a small part of the time when a child learns to read is beyond gratifying and humbling, what remains precious to me as well, is the world of Biscuit itself. Although Pat Schories and I have worked together now for over twenty years to create this world, we of course also work quite separately. What I think we share most deeply is a vision of the life of young child, whether embodied by Biscuit, or the little girl who remains unnamed – she is every child. It is a simple, uncluttered, unhurried world that I hope readers return to and linger in for its warmth and humor, its moments of mayhem and its moments of quiet. Because whether its your first time visiting a big city, or a farm, or helping a neighbor feed their pets, there’s nothing quite like having a puppy at your heels to share it with.