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Chappaqua Author Pops Up at Bell Middle School

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- Best-selling author Matthew Van Fleet visited Robert E. Bell Middle School on Wednesday to share the stories behind his pop-up and pull-tab books and show students how they can create their own.

Appearing in the school's Cozy Corner, Van Fleet, a Chappaqua resident, brought along his collection of books including “Fuzzy Yellow Ducklings,” "Tails," "Alphabet" and “DOG,” to share with a seventh grade audience.

"Some kids here have some of the dogs in here," said Van Fleet of "DOG." "We actually shot this whole book in our living room."

While attending school to study biology, Van Fleet said he became interested in illustrations. He started working behind-the-scenes at a publishing company before putting together his own concepts.

Van Fleet said he designed his first book in 1991, but found success three years later with his book "Fuzzy Yellow Ducklings." He said the book has sold over 1.4 million copies.

"Basically when you’re writing a book the first thing you have to do is come up with the idea," Van Fleet said. "I doodle as I write, but you really have to come up with the writing first so you know what you’re gonna say and what the concepts are."

He added that the process of getting a book published is a lot more difficult than simply having an idea. Van Fleet said he has to write, illustrate and design pull-tabs by hand in a "dummy" book to see if the idea is viable.

"You can't just go into a publisher and say I sorta have this book," Van Fleet said. "They have to know what is to know how much it costs to make it. They might say 'wow this is great,' but if it costs $50 we can't sell it. I have a lot of books that were never published."

Following his presentation, Van Fleet showed Bell students how to their own pop-ups by cutting out pre-printed rhinos, fairies, spiders and butterflies.

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