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CHILDREN'S BOOK: The Boy Who Said Wow

A nonverbal autistic 9-year-old boy named Ronan made music history in 2019 when his spontaneous, exclamatory "Wow" after a Boston Handel & Haydn Society concert was caught on a radio recording that went viral. Stories on CBS, NPR, and dozens of outlets reached more than 70 million listeners.

Todd crafted it into a children's picture book, The Boy Who Said Wow, from Simon & Schuster's Beach Lane imprint, beautifully illustrated in mixed-media pen-and-ink watercolors by Rashin Kheiriyeh.

To write this story of music and autism authentically and compassionately, Todd interviewed Ronan's family extensively about their surprising concert experience before retelling it from Ronan's perspective — turning a stranger's story into poetry, just as he does on his podcast, There's a Poem in That.

The complete story of Todd's journey with the book is detailed in a generous article in Publisher's Weekly.

A GBH reel reached 2 million views within a month of the book's launch.

Kheiriyeh's timeless illustrations are subdued but lively, punctuated with pops of concert-hall red, and animated by joyous expressions and gestures.

An alternately loud and quiet portrait exploring the power of music to reach the private mind, Todd's tale of The Boy Who Said Wow tracks the adventure of a day in the life of one now-famous concertgoer, from New Hampshire to Boston and back home again, and to bed, where the music continues to play in Ronan's head.

Todd's Emmy-winning work as a choral librettist makes him the perfect storyteller for this subtly moving tale of music's inexplicable magic.

Beautifully told, with just enough well-chosen words.

An unusual picture book that tells a memorable story.

— starred Booklist review

A heartwarming testament to music’s emotional power.

— Kirkus Reviews, 2/15/2024

Emotionally satisfying ... [a] cosmic musical experience.

— Horn Book

A masterpiece of brevity and depth!

Parent Express

This is absolutely, utterly incredible. I'm blown away by this

beautiful portrayal of our boy brought to life.

Truly such an AMAZING gift!

— Rachel, Ronan's mother

Before it was published by Beach Lane, The Boy Who Said Wow was first adapted to video for Classical Kids Storytime by Minnesota Public Radio in 2020, with illustrations by Nancy Carlson. It quickly became the most popular CKS video ever, with 100,000 views in its first week alone.

The book's sale to Beach Lane was handled by Rubin Pfeffer of Rubin Pfeffer Content, now part of Aevitas Creative Management. Beach Lane VP and Senior Editor Allyn Johnston brought the book to print.

Ronan's "Wow" has already been heard by millions of adults around the world. I want kids to hear it too. I loved the process of interviewing Ronan's family and members of the orchestra to develop this project, and I'm grateful to them for sharing the story with me. And the nonverbal little boy in me is forever grateful to Ronan, too, for expressing the inexpressible.

Todd's signature.


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