Josh Selig loves writing, and he’s actively been doing it since he was in high school. The type of writing, he says, varies from scripts to poems to songs.
“I can’t actually imagine a life without writing,” Josh told Cracking the Cover. “For me, writing is like a friend who’s always there who totally understands me.”
Josh is a multiple Emmy-award winning producer/creator. He began as a child actor on “Sesame Street” and eventually became the resident producer of the Israeli-Palestinian Sesame Street co-production. He is founder and president of Little Airplane Productions.
Writing happens at a very different place from real life, Josh says, and he admits it can be hard sometimes to shift between the two. But there are many joys, as well. “The joys of writing are no different than the joys of painting, dancing or making a cake,” he said. “It’s the joy of creation and the feeling that you’ve made something that another person will hopefully enjoy.”
As with the style and type of writing, Josh’s audience varies, too. But while the author of “Red and Yellow’s Noisy Night” writes to all ages, Josh says he likes writing for young children in particular because their imaginations are still so open and they’re eager to be transported into new and very different worlds.
The ideas for these different worlds come from pretty much anywhere, Josh says. “Something I see or something someone says to me. The world is just bursting with pieces of stories and shows that are waiting for a writer to come and finish them.”
Sometimes it takes a while, though, for ideas to come into fruition. The first thought of “Red and Yellow’s Noisy Night” came to Josh some 15 years ago. He was working in Jerusalem on a project designed to foster tolerance and mutual respect among Israeli and Palestinian children. “Ever since then I have wanted to make a TV show and a book about two characters who must share the branches of an olive tree. The setting just seemed very rich to me.”
The TV part of that idea came to fruition first. For it, Red and Yellow’s story was told entirely through images. With the published book came the added challenge of words. “It was really exciting to add words for the book,” Josh said, “and also to distill the animated show down to a few essential key images.”
Josh worked closely with art director Cassandra Berger on the illustrations for the book, but he says she did “all the real work.” Together, they created a book that focuses on a simple, but oft-forgotten principle — getting along with others.
“I think that all children (and grown-ups) struggle with overcoming conflicts of various kinds,” Josh said. “It’s very satisfying to hear a story about a conflict that gets resolved peacefully and with joy and humor.”
Part of the appeal of “Red and Yellow’s Noisy Night” is it’s universal tones, Josh says. “If we had used children or humans they would naturally have had a specific cultural background. Animals, however, have the ability to become symbols for all children from any part of the world,” he said. “I like that a lot.”
*Josh took a lot of time and care to answer Cracking the Cover’s questions. Read a complete transcript of his interview.
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