Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Story Behind Where Is Pidge?

Where Is Pidge?, Michelle Staubach Grimes, Roger Staubach
Click here to learn more about Where Is Pidge? 
Any parent understands the turn of events that happened right before I snapped this grainy photo. My three year-old was in toddler purgatory: tired and cranky yet too tired to settle down and go to bed. Jordan had one of those days in which she had been blowing and going since 8am: school, an after-school visit to the grandparents house (which is usually filled with too many sweets) and a late dinner.

I told her we were going to relax and read a book. She stopped her fussy/cranky/tired crying and picked up Where Is Pidge?the story of middle child Pidge Hoobler who feels lonely, somewhat overlooked and decides to run away but gets stuck in her family's laundry chute.

As soon as Jordan opened the book, she settled. She studied the first few pages and simply said, "Mommy, read this book."

Done. It was the calm after the storm.

Since then it has become a book we revisit three to four times a week. Out of the blue, Jordan will ask "Where is Pidge?", "Why was Pidge crying?" or even better "Pidge is happy?".

Ultimately Pidge realizes she's not forgotten, instead she is loved and appreciated by her family. A message that resonates not only with my daughter but with just about anyone.

The Story Behind Where Is Pidge?
From Maverick the Bernese mountain dog to the number 12 football jersey, Where Is Pidge? is a book full of symbolism and meaning for author Michelle Staubach Grimes.

Where Is Pidge?, Michelle Staubach Grimes, Roger Staubach
Pidge tripping over Maverick and baby brother, Little Petey/Image via Pidge Media
"Pidge is my mom's nickname," Michelle told me over coffee one morning. "She was called 'Pidge' growing up. Hoobler was her maiden name." 

“I wrote this as ‘thank you’ to my mom.”

Michelle’s mother, Marianne Staubach, wasn’t the only inspiration for the book. As part of a large sports-loving family with three sisters, a brother and Hall of Fame father Roger Staubach, Michelle knows firsthand how Pidge feels.

“It's my story in a lot of ways,” she says. “It’s really written from my POV as a child.”

“I don't think you have to be a middle child to feel this, though. We're all a middle child at some point.” 

How true is that? 

Where Is Pidge? Michelle Staubach Grimes, Roger Staubach
Pidge eyeing the laundry chute/Image via Pidge Media
Another truth? Getting stuck in the laundry chute a la Pidge Hoobler. 

“We had a laundry shoot growing up. I didn’t get stuck in it growing up but my sister, Jennifer, did and then one of my sister's friend's kids got stuck in one three years ago.” 

What's Next For Pidge 
Michelle plans for Pidge to embark on a few more journeys with a series of Where Is Pidge? books. I joked that I would love to see Pidge get lost at AT&T Stadium or the American Airlines Center.  

“I want her to always go on an adventure and have it be a story that is meaningful but fun,” Michelle says. 

Image via

Right now her plan is to continue promoting children’s literacy. Michelle has been speaking across Dallas/Fort Worth at various elementary schools to spread the joys of reading and creative writing. 

“My favorite thing is going to schools, especially schools that don’t have a lot of authors coming in to read,” she tells me with a smile. 

Growing Up Staubach 
I get the impression that most interviews with Michelle eventually end up discussing her famous father and what it was like growing up with "Captain America" coming home every night. Having personally known and interviewed Roger for years, I almost felt weird asking Michelle this because I had a sense of what the answer would be. 

“People are surprised how normal we are,” she says. That's what strikes most everyone about Roger Staubach.

“People used to ask him for autographs when he was trying to sleep on an airplane or in the communion line,” she adds.

“We were lucky but I do think it's a lot different now. We had our privacy, there wasn't social media. It's nothing like what the players are dealing with now.” 

Did You Know?
Former Dallas Morning News nationally syndicated editorial and sports cartoonist Bill DeOre did the wonderful illustrations for Where Is Pidge

Each of the illustrations in the book are original pieces of art work, created with a pen, pencil and watercolor paint. 

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