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For some Hollywood screenwriters, an unlikely diversion: children's books

As the writers' strike enters its fourth month, six scribes explore a different medium.

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In July, Kurtz ran the idea of tapping screenwriting talent past Ted Adams, president of Worthwhile's parent company IDW – a publisher better known for graphic novels. Mr. Adams liked the idea.

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Among the first crop of books is "Vigfus the Viking" by David Sacks ("The Simpsons," "Malcolm in the Middle") and Brian Ross. The premise centers on a Viking ship that sails into port with the other tall ships during New York City Fleet Week. On board are young Vigfus and his parents, who must learn to fit into the city without losing their essential Viking-ness. "It's an immigrant story, but the immigrants are Vikings," says Kurtz.

Of his work on "Vigfus," Mr. Sacks says, "A writer writes, so it's hard not to write during the strike.... It's wonderful to be given an outlet where you can write in an unfettered way."

Other Worthwhile authors include Dava Savel ("That's So Raven") and David Steinberg ("Meet the Robinsons") whose book, "Maximillian," is about a tiny dog not unlike Paris Hilton's Tinkerbell, who believes that he is the celebrity. Maximillian must discover he is not, in fact, the center of the world.

In September, "Carl the Frog" will be among the first of the screenwriter-authored books to hit store shelves. It opens with Carl as a tadpole who is eager to use his frog tongue. But soon he finds himself devouring the creatures who are also his friends. Eventually, says Weiss, "Carl learns that with a little self-control, you can have your friends and eat, too."

As vice president of the Writers Guild, West, Weiss has found himself as busy as ever with the strike. Compared to his bread and butter Hollywood gigs, he says the book pay is a pittance. But the project has been a welcome respite with other rewards.

"It was a real pleasure to sit and smile and think about Carl," says Weiss, "just to sit in a coffee shop and doodle about what Carl might do today. And who he might eat."

As for "Carl the Frog's" original audience, Weiss's kids are pretty excited to see their bedtime story translated into a picture book. They're also hoping for a movie version. This is Hollywood, after all. Sacks says he's already been approached by movie companies who hear about Vikings trampling through modern-day New York City and think feature film. "Ultimately, it would be wonderful for these to be feature films and TV series," says Kurtz, adding that of course the screenwriters retain ownership of their characters, along with Worthwhile.

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