Robert Gould Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Writings, Sidelights
Education: Attended Rochester Institute of Technology.
Office—Big Guy Books, Inc., 5611 Palmer Way, Suite E, Carlsbad, CA 92008; Image One, 523 Encinitas Blvd., Suite 107, Encinitas, CA 93024.
Image One (graphic design firm), Encinitas, CA, owner and graphic designer; Big Guy Books, Carlsbad, CA, publisher and photographer.
(Illustrator) Robert Silverberg, Letters from Atlantis, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1990.
(Photographer) Kathleen Duey, Spider-Man, Ultimate Picture Book, Volume I, Big Guy Books (Carlsbad, CA), 2002.
(Photographer) Kathleen Duey, X-Men, Ultimate Picture Book, Big Guy Books (Carlsbad, CA), 2003.
(Photographer) Kathleen Duey, X-Men Ultimate Picture Book, Volume II, Big Guy Books (Carlsbad, CA), 2003.
PHOTOGRAPHER; "TIME SOLDIERS" SERIES
Kathleen Duey, Rex, Big Guy Books (Carlsbad, CA), 2000.
Kathleen Duey, Rex 2, Big Guy Books (Carlsbad, CA), 2000.
Kathleen Duey, Patch, Big Guy Books (Carlsbad, CA), 2003.
Kathleen Duey, Arthur, Big Guy Books (Carlsbad, CA), 2004.
Kathleen Duey, Mummy, Big Guy Books (Carlsbad, CA), in press.
"BIG STUFF" SERIES
Big Rigs: Big Stuff, Big Guy Books (Carlsbad, CA), 2004. Giant Earthmovers: Big Stuff, Big Guy Books (Carlsbad, CA), 2004.
Tractors: Big Stuff, Big Guy Books (Carlsbad, CA), 2004.
Monster Trucks: Big Stuff, Big Guy Books (Carlsbad, CA), 2004.
Robert Gould is the driving force behind Big Guy Books, an unusual California publishing company. Big Guy Books focuses on young boys, who tend to be reluctant readers. This focus is a result, in part, Gould has said, because traditional publishing houses often concentrate on girls, but also because even when books for boys are made available, boys instead opt for electronic entertainment, such as television and video games. Gould, a strong proponent of literacy and himself the father of two sons, set out to create books effective at attracting the desired readership. "Reading is fundamental to everything we do," Gould was quoted as saying in PR Newswire. "We cannot allow our children to be turned off to reading. We have to find a way to reach them."
Big Guy Books has three series, aimed at different age groups. The "Big Stuff" picture books, for pre-school children, are about the types of large machines that small boys find most fascinating: tractors, construction machinery, and big rigs. The "Time Soldiers" series, for boys from ages eight to twelve, features six boys who stumble upon a dimensional portal that lets them travel through time. In the first book, Rex, the boys accidently travel back to the age of dinosaurs and must avoid a Tyrannosaurus Rex while trying to figure out how to get back to their own time. In Rex 2, the dinosaur follows them home through the portal, forcing the boys to try to protect the inhabitants of the modern world from the prehistoric super-sized carnivore. In Patch, the third installment in the series, the boys go back to a time when pirates roamed the seas, and in the fourth installment, Arthur, the boys meet young Arthur Pendragon, later to become legendary as King Arthur.
In a separate book sequence, photographer Gould and the Big Guy Books team retell the stories of such enduring Stan Lee-created comic-book characters as Spider-Man and the X-Men, adapting the adventures into in a format suitable for children eight to twelve.
To attract children who are used to realistic television shows and movies, Gould writes action-packed plots and uses photographs and sophisticated special effects to create illustrations that could easily be stills from a movie. Because of the demands of these illustrations, Big Guy Books functions more as a film studio than as a traditional publishing house. Gould, who before opening Big Guy Books ran his own successful graphic-design firm, maps out the stories and takes the photographs. Then children's author Kathleen Duey creates the texts, Rain Ramos casts the "actors" who appear in the photographs and creates the storyboards, and "digital wizard" Eugene Epstein handles the special effects.
Gould is confident that the books that have resulted from these efforts contribute to enhanced reading skills. "What we've found is that the more detailed the pictures are, the longer the right side of the brain stays focused on the page while the left side is reading," he explained to San Diego Business Journal interviewer Connie Lewis. "So the right side carries the left along and both sides work together, thus there is reading comprehension and assimilation."
Biographical and Critical Sources
PR Newswire, October 11, 2002, "Stealth Literacy Comes to Vermont: Publisher Launches Books Using Super-heroes and Special Effects Graphics Designed for the Reluctant Reader"; April 15, 2004, "Robert Gould, Publisher of Big Guy Books, Launches His Literacy Truck to Tour Fifteen States."
Publishers Weekly, December 15, 2003, Bridget Kinsella, "Big Guy Courts Reluctant Readers," p. 25.
San Diego Business Journal, May 26, 2003, Connie Lewis, "Big Guy Books Catching on with Untapped Reader-ship," p. 17.
School Library Journal, March, 1991, Susan M. Harding, review of Letters from Atlantis, p. 218.
US Newswire, February 21, 2003, "'Stealth' Literacy Arrives in DC: Innovative Program Helps Struggling Area Schools."
Big Guy Books Web site, http://www.bigguybooks.com/ (September 22, 2004).*