How Peet Montzingo brought his debut children’s book to life with YouTube Shorts
Family is a big part of Peet Montzingo’s life. And with over 8 million subscribers on his YouTube channel, Peet regularly shares his experience as the "tall" sibling in a family of little people on a worldwide scale. His channel has amassed more than 6 billion lifetime views, and his best performing Shorts has reached 337 million views.
In addition to his slice-of-life family content, Peet’s channel is multi-faceted: from serious videos tackling mental health awareness to deep dives into his fascination with the supernatural, videos like “I Grew Up in a Mini Home” and “When Another Short Person Comes Over” have helped him develop a career as an entertainer and entrepreneur.
Now, Peet has embarked on a new journey with the release his first ever children’s book with his co-author Rockwell Sands. In “Little Imperfections: A Tall Tale of Growing Up Different,” Peet and Rockwell showcase meaningful life lessons through captivating rhythms and breathtaking illustrations. His book also brings a first-of-its-kind interactive YouTube element, allowing readers to scan through the pages to find accompanying videos online to bring the stories to life.
We caught up with Peet to learn more about his YouTube journey and what it was like becoming an author.
Let’s get down to the basics — how did your YouTube journey start ?
Peet: Up until the pandemic, I was actually in a touring boy band. It was where I thought my career was going to go. And then when COVID happened, everything was shut down and I was like, "Well what am I going to do?" I'm a workaholic and if I can't entertain in person then I guess I'll continue it online.
And so the first week back home, I made YouTube videos about my experience quarantining with my mom and we started creating content together. That just kind of blew up and set everything up to where it is now.
And now you have an exciting new project! How did the idea for a children’s book come about?
Peet: It was really important to me to share my childhood experience in a relatable way and tell people no matter how you feel, whether you feel different or whatever, it doesn't matter because you're validated and you're perfect the way you are.
After seeing the overwhelming response to the content about my family, I knew that I wanted to build on that momentum. I immediately got on the phone with my really good friend (now co-author) and we thought that it would be great to take my experience growing up and turn it into a children’s lesson that people could learn from.
It's just never been done. You've never been able to turn the page on a book and see a QR code and be able to scan it [and] watch, read and follow along and find easter eggs in both. ” Peet Montzingo
This isn’t an ordinary children’s book. Why did you want to create a video and a book component for this project?
Peet: It's just never been done. You've never been able to turn the page on a book and see a QR code and be able to scan it or in an e-book, click the link, be able to watch, read and follow along and find easter eggs in both. Little things that tie into each other. All of the illustrations are also based off of the actual screen stills from the video. I just wanted to do something really creative.
That sounds incredibly challenging!
Peet: It truly is way more work than we thought. There's so much more logistical things you have to think about and all these different components. Even with the illustration — the illustrator would make the images and then I'd be like, "Oh, it doesn't feel right. I'm a perfectionist and my creative bone isn't tingling right now. Why is that?" And so I have to dissect it.
16 months later… It's been such a hard process but I'm so happy with the outcome now because it looks exactly how I want it.
How does it feel now that the book is finally coming out?
Peet: The night before the book launched, my co-author Rockwell and I went to Times Square at 11:59 PM to watch the billboard change at exactly midnight. When we saw our book on it, we just collapsed on the ground. We couldn't believe it was real, and it was just a really surreal moment.
The next morning when we went back, there was this little boy who was looking at the billboard and he had his sister right next to me. He looked up and goes, "Oh, look, there's that guy." They didn’t know I was behind them, so I lean over and I'm like, "Who? Me?" And they look over at me and their brain broke and they just started freaking out. I gave them a book and they were over the moon. It was just a really cool moment.
What was it like partnering with your mom to create this project about your childhood?
Peet: My mom was a part of the writing and filming process from beginning to end. We had four long filming days and she was up the earliest and working the longest. I just am so proud of her honestly.
The project also brought us a lot closer and she got to understand my childhood from my point of view. It was a surprise to her that I felt like I didn’t fit in growing up. When my mom read the story for the first time I saw the initial shock on her face when she read it and she was bawling. She actually just had no idea.
Do you have a favorite component or part of the book? (No spoilers please 😉)
Peet: I guess my favorite part about the book is the lesson and raising awareness for dwarfism. It's also really universal and talks about how your “weaknesses” can actually be your biggest strengths. If you learn to love yourself unconditionally and understand that your insecurities could actually be your superpower, it's only going to help your life and it's going to make yourself love yourself better. It's you're going to realize a different perspective you've never had. That's what I love about this book the most is just that magic that it gives to kids.