Down the Hole by Scott Slater (+ a GIVEAWAY)

Hello, Picture Book Builders people.

One of the picture books that brought me a whole lot of joy in 2023 was Down the Hole, written by Scott Slater and illustrated by Adam Ming. It has humor! It has drama! It even has the barcode incorporated into the art!


But I’m not the only one who digs this book. Check out these reviews:

“Readers will have a ‘hole’ lot of fun with this entertaining book.” — Kirkus Reviews

“. . . the warm colors, humorous details, and skillfully paced writing and pictures make this a very funny and satisfying treat.” — Horn Book Magazine

“A wickedly funny picture book. Clever dialogue, mounting suspense and humor combine to create a picture book that’s sure to leave young listeners on the edge of their seat . . . . one rabbit hole readers won’t mind falling down over and over again.” — BookPage

Nice, huh?

Today, Scott Slater is with us at Picture Book Builders. Let’s ask him some questions, shall we?

TS: Scott! Welcome to Picture Book Builders. Tell us a little about Down the Hole. Where oh where did you get the idea for this gem of a book?

SS: Hi, Tammi! Thank you so much for inviting me to be on Picture Book Builders. I’m a huge fan and thrilled to be here.

Well, Down the Hole started out as an idea based on a quick sketch I did one day of a fox (which looks more like a wolf) sitting next to hole.

When I looked at it, I said to myself “oh, he’s waiting for someone.” But then, I immediately thought, “what if someone’s waiting for him!”

From that point, the overall story idea came together pretty quickly. I knew what I wanted the story arc to be, and I had the beginning and the end with the repetition locked in soon after that. It was the middle section of dialogue, and playing out the battle of wits between the two main characters in addition to how I wanted Fox to get dealt with that took the most time. I spent a lot of lunch hours sitting in the break area with a pen and paper working through it.

TS: Down the Hole is your very first book. What has your path to publication been like?

SS: I think my path to publication has probably been the typical first-time author scenario. I had a story that I liked, it had gotten positive feedback from the people who read it, and so I felt good about sending it around in hopes of getting someone to represent me. Then came a lot of rejections, and I started to question whether my story, or my ability to write,was really any good at all. I did realize from the start, though, that given some of the darker humor in the story, I might run into issues getting someone to stand behind it.

Still, I was checking agency sites every day, as well as #MSWL to see if any new agents were looking for picture book authors with my type of story. But even the agents who said they enjoyed darker humor and were looking for stories like mine, were still passing on my manuscript. This was also in 2020 during the height of the pandemic, and, at one point, I literally ran out of agents to submit to. Everyone who was open to submissions had already turned me down. It was looking bleak.

But then along came the Wernick & Pratt Agency! It was one of the first agencies I looked into when I was beginning to submit because I knew they represented some great artists, but their submission process required TWO stories! In my mind, that just meant twice the opportunity for them to pass, so I was intimidated and hadn’t sent anything. But, given my situation, I felt I had nothing to lose. I sent off Down the Hole and another story I had written. Within a few days, they emailed me back saying they really liked my writing and would like to set up an interview. So I talked on the phone with the amazing Shannon Gallagher, and she believed in the potential of me and my writing enough to offer representation.

After that, Shannon sent my story around, and we found the incredible Kait Feldmann at Clarion/HarperCollins who championed my book to get published. It was all a little surreal. When I first got involved in writing picture books, I would hear professionals in the industry say that it’s a matter of your story finding the right people. And that’s exactly what happened.

TS: I adore Adam Ming’s illustrations. Do you have a favorite spread? Also, shall we start up an Adam Ming Fan Club?

SS: Oh, come on! You know that’s a trick question and impossible to answer. But yes. Yes, I do have a favorite spread. I think it’s pages 8-9, when we first see the bunnies plotting and preparing in the war burrow. I just love all the small details in the illustration and the expressions of the bunnies. And the way the light is coming down on our hero bunny, perfect! Also, the cup of coffee on the table like they’ve been at this for a while makes me laugh! I can’t tell you how lucky I feel that Adam was able to take on this project. He took everything I hoped an illustrator would do with my words and then completely surpassed it. I couldn’t be happier with what his imagination came up with.

Absolutely, I do think we should start up our own fan club! I’m actually on the waitlist to get into the “official” Adam Ming Fan Club, but I’ve been told once they review my application, and if I pass the background check, it still may take 2-3 years. He’s just so popular!!

TS: Dig deep. Give us some author-y advice.

I don’t feel any pressure at all answering this question! Well, here goes! Read a lot, write a lot. Write as much as you can and be purposeful with it, but don’t necessarily be precious with it. Don’t hold on to anything so tightly that you’re afraid to change things or even discard something completely. I feel as a writer, one of the strongest and most valuable skills you can have is being aware of when something is or isn’t working. Then, either knowing how to fix it as best as you can or recognizing it’s time to move on from it. When you can start to see that difference in your work, it means you’re growing as an artist. Keep learning, seek out people or classes or seminars that can help you improve as a writer. There is always something to learn. And lastly, I would say write about things that you connect with and are drawn to. Don’t chase trends or write what you think people are looking for at the moment. Write great stories that move you, and those stories will eventually find the right people.

TS: Scott, that’s great advice. Thanks so much for visiting us here at Picture Book Builders. I can’t wait to see what you do next!


Scott Slater grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area where he earned a BAS in animation and visual effects. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his family and works as a computer animator. He loves writing and hopes to one day make that his full-time career.


Scott is offering a signed copy of Down the Hole! For a chance to win, please comment on this post and/or share the post on Twitter. (Yes, I still call it Twitter.) Be sure to tag me–@SauerTammi.

Tammi Sauer

Tammi Sauer, a former teacher and library media specialist, is a full-time children's book author who presents at schools and conferences across the country. She has more than 30 published picture books and has many others on the way. Her books have received awards, earned starred reviews, made lists, been made into musicals, and been translated into many different languages. Most importantly, kids really like her books! To learn more about Tammi and her books, please visit and follow her on Twitter at @SauerTammi.


  1. Debra Kempf Shumaker

    OMG, this book looks hilarious! Just put it on hold in my library. And that last paragraph of the interview? Chock-full of excellent advice. Great post!

  2. Can’t wait to read this, Scott!

  3. Dark humor? Sign me up!

  4. Looks hilarious! Can’t wait to read it. Thank you for sharing how this pb came about.

    • I hope you find it hilarious, Angela. You’re welcome for sharing how it all came to be! There’s always more than you expect when you start on the path! But totally worth it.

  5. What a fun book! I love the idea of the rabbits plotting out their counter attack plan. I found it interesting to learn about your writing journey.

    • Hey Mark, yeah, the whole idea of what’s happening below ground as compared to the relative calm above ground was an aspect that really appealed to me when I was writing the story. And Adam totally nailed it!
      Glad you found my writing journey interesting, I was always drawn to how authors got to where they were. It seems like a lot of the same steps and setbacks are part of the process for everyone.

  6. Oh, what diabolical fun! I can’t wait to read this! Congratulations, Scott!!

  7. Thank you Tammy & Scott for sharing about this fun hole-some book that sneaks up on readers with a sly wink!
    Especially loved hearing about Scott’s persistence on his path to publication, and I agree that the illustrations are ADAMMazING!

    • You’re very welcome, Michael! Thank you for reading the article. And yes, it really is all about persistence. The payoff is much more satisfying when you’ve been in the trenches for a while. Or at least that’s what I tell myself, haha.

  8. This book looks so cute. I’m looking forward to checking it out. Your first book is so exciting, here’s to many more! Congrats Scott.

  9. This looks so funny! I love the spreads you shared and am eager to see the rest!

  10. I love humorous picture books and can’t wait to read this one. Thank you for the interview.

  11. how fun! thanks for sharing!

  12. The art (that cover!) really drew me in, but the story idea and the thought of it being so full of humor has me stoked to go check this out!

  13. I love this book! I checked it out from the library when it first released, and it’s on my “to buy” list. But winning a copy would be great too!

  14. What a great book – and encouraging story about writing it!

  15. Bunnies…a fox…I’m hooked already! Can’t wait to read this one! Congrats, Scott! Thanks for sharing your book’s journey!

  16. I would love to win a copy of Down the Hole! Glad you stuck with this and found an agent who saw your talent. Congratulations!

  17. Congratulations on your perseverance, Scott! Can’t wait to read this adorable book.

  18. This book looks great! Awesome advice, thanks!

  19. Looks hilarious! And poignant. Kait Feldmann was my editor too, so I loved his shout-out to her. 🙂

    • Thank you, Jean! Congratulations on all your success! Yes, Kait is the absolute best (as you know)! I couldn’t have asked for a better editor on my firs book, and I hope i can work with her again in the future!

  20. Can’t wait to check out Scott’s book. Looks so fun! And thanks for the giveaway. 🙂

  21. Janet Frenck Sheets

    This looks like so much fun. I just put a hold request for it at my library.

  22. I can’t wait to read this. Thanks, Tammi!

  23. What a FUN read! Looking forward to this PB in my lap.

  24. Yay for the hero bunny! I’m looking forward to reading this clever book.

  25. Oh wow, this book looks amazing! Going to request my library here gets it. Love it, subversiveness and all. Probably because of the subversiveness! And Scott’s advice in the last paragraph is amazing and lovely. Thank you for a inspiring post Tammi!

  26. Your tale of how you got published gives hope to me. Thank you for sharing behind the scenes. Rabbits plotting sounds delightful.

  27. This book looks very clever and fun! Thank you for sharing! Congratulations, Scott, on your debut! 🙂

  28. Scott and Tammi, thank you for a delightful interview. Scott, congratulations!!! It looks so much fun! As a fan of Brer Rabbit growing up, it’s always a delight seeing bunnies outfoxing a fox. Thank you, too, for your writing advice, esp. write what moves you! Looking forward to more books from you in the future.

  29. Great interview! Thanks, Scott & Tammi! This book looks and sounds terrific. Add me to the Adam Ming fan club!

  30. Tammi and Scott this is a great interview! And what a fun story and delivery! Looks like I’m putting this on hold for my next trip to the library!

  31. Looks so very fun, and I love hearing about your publishing journey!

  32. Absolutely hilarious. I love dark humor. Congrats Scott!!

  33. How did I miss this book? I am always on the lookout for funny books to share on Instagram. I will check it out! Thank you!

  34. This book sounds like hilarity abounds and the art brings it to life! Cannot wait to read it to my grands!

  35. I’m always on the look out for funny books. Looking forward to this!

  36. Elise Hofer Derstine

    Just put it on hold at my library! Congrats, Scott.

  37. Congratulations on your debut! This looks like such a fun book, I can’t wait to read it. Thanks for sharing the advice, it encourages the rest of us non published writers.

    • Thank you very much, Karen! I hope you enjoy the book when you get a chance to read it. And yes, as much as i can encourage fellow writers to keep going, that’s what I want to do! You can do it!

  38. This looks hilarious! I can’t wait to read it! Congratulations, Scott!

  39. This book looks awesome. What a great idea for a story

  40. Enjoyed hearing where the idea came from. Can’t wait to read it.

  41. Looks like a fun read! Love the illustrations!

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