BuzzFeed’s David Mack Tells Us How ‘The President and the Big Boy Truck’ Went From Post to Children’s Book

Sometimes at BuzzFeed, it only takes a day or so for a post to turn into a real-life adult children's book

Headshot of Corinne Grinapol

According to Slate, writing books for kids is harder than it looks, a lesson learned when the publication held a children’s book writing contest among a number of its staffers, all attempting to write about a hedgehog.

Perhaps it was a matter of not having the type of subject matter so perfectly suitable for a picture book, the kind of subject matter that really shined in BuzzFeed news reporter David Mack’s post-turned-children’s book documenting President Trump’s photo op inside of a truck parked on the White House lawn last Thursday.

“I thought it would be a fun, unique way of sharing what were some pretty incredible photos from an otherwise routine White House press event,” Mack tells Fishbowl of the post that took him about 15 minutes to create. “I chose the best images, put them in an order that conveyed a sense of narrative, then started writing some short and sweet captions.”

His captions took their cues from the rhythms of children’s books. “Each line had only three syllables, which I think lends itself to a very slow and measured read,” he tells Fishbowl. “You can almost hear your kindergarten teacher reading it aloud. For instance, the line ‘It is trucks!’ is now the line people quote back to me the most.”

And you can see it in action in the promotional video BuzzFeed designed for the book, which features, simply enough, a successful read-through with a group of children, all offspring of BuzzFeed employees. “I couldn’t believe that BuzzFeed was not only able to put together a book in less than a day but also a whole marketing campaign,” Mack tells Fishbowl.

The idea to actually turn it into a book came from a suggestion/earnest request from Jade Urban, which ignited a rapid response on the part of Dao Nguyen, BuzzFeed’s publisher and head of technology and Ben Kaufman, its Product Labs head, that had Mack in the lab the following day, adding a few more pages of content and helping get the book ready for its Friday debut as a product available for purchase in BuzzFeed’s online shop.

More than 1,500 copies have already been sold, which means if you haven’t ordered one yet, you’ve already lost out on the opportunity to get a bonus sheet of truck stickers shipping with the first 1,000 orders.