Don’t Drink the Pink, by B. C. R. Fegan, is a children’s story about a little girl, Madeline, and her quirky grandfather who is always full of surprises. From the time that she is one year old, Madeline gets to choose one of her grandfather’s magical potions each year as a birthday gift, always following her grandfather’s warning not to select the pink one. Every birthday she is excited to discover what special ability the potion will give her that day. The tradition continues even as she gets older, but after her grandfather becomes frail and sick, she finally learns the secret behind her grandfather’s last surprise – the pink potion that she has been avoiding every year.
Fegan’s book is a fun and heartwarming story of the special relationship between a girl and her grandfather. I think that the book’s idea of magical potions and special powers will appeal to the author’s young audience and the consistent rhyming style is sure to grab the reader’s attention and keep them reading. The illustrations that accompany the text are well done, as usual, and give the reader delightful visual details that help create a connection to the story. Overall, this is a fun story that is perfectly suited to its audience. Absolutely fun, cute, and entertaining!
Pages: 40 | ASIN: B07SH1M437
The World’s Greatest Mousetrap follows Reginald as he tries his best to rid his shop of a pesky mouse. How did you come up with the idea behind this book?
It really began with the text on the first page. When I began writing the book, I had intended on having the bookstore as a small library. The only idea I had at the time was that I wanted to contrast the small, quiet and familiar world of a building (and the person within it) that had managed to keep out the expanding and fast paced world growing up about them.
After the first page, I knew I could take the story in a number of directions, but I decided that I really wanted to focus on that idea of our small worlds being challenged – not from the outside, but from within.
The elaborate mousetrap that Reginald builds was cute, and I ended up staring at the image for a few minutes just to take it all in. What served as your inspiration when creating the mousetrap?
I’m happy to hear that you lingered on that page – that was exactly what I hoped readers might do. I’ve always loved books that invite you to spend time looking over them in detail.
I think perhaps what served as my inspiration for the elaborate mousetrap, were the strange inventions and Rube Goldberg machines in the classic film ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’. I enjoyed the over-the-top attempts to solve a problem and I wanted to inject that humour into the book.
That page was actually one of the more difficult ones I think for me to describe to Fanny Liem (the book’s illustrator). I hope I didn’t frustrate her too much, but I think we went through three revisions. Each time, I asked her to make it bigger and more complex. In my mind, I had levers and tubes and gears crowding the shop so much that they were invading the street. In the end, I think she rightfully restrained the idea to something that someone of Reginald’s age could manage. She did a fantastic job I think with not only the mousetrap, but with all the illustrations.
I think, in the end, this book is about unlikely friendships. What was a guiding theme for you when writing this book?
I really wanted to create a fun and accessible story about prejudice and the worlds that we create around ourselves that can often hinder our capacity to see the similarities in others.
Reginald’s world is safe. He knows who he is and he knows what he likes. The mouse ends up invading that world and obviously setting into motion a series of events that leads to Reginald confronting his own prejudgements.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The next book is called Don’t Drink the Pink and is about a young girl and the magical relationship she has with her Grandfather. Like all my other books, there are a number of layers that I hope will appeal to a wide age group. It will be available August 1, 2019.
When Reginald finds a mouse in his bookstore, he will stop at nothing to catch the pesky critter. Even if it means building the world’s greatest mousetrap. Unfortunately for Reginald, the mouse always seems to be one step ahead.
Mice don’t grin. Mice certainly don’t chuckle. Or do they? For dear old Reginald, devoted reader and shopkeeper, a grinning mouse in his bookshop simply won’t do. Children and adults alike will delight in reading along as Reginald makes several hapless attempts to catch the cleverest mouse of all time in B.C.R Fegan’s The World’s Greatest Mousetrap. Will Reginald’s madcap quest to construct increasingly elaborate traps succeed in catching one tiny mouse, or, will he end up catching his customers instead!?
In this warm and humorous tale of determination and unlikely friendship, Fegan offers a look at what could happen if humans let go of preconceived notions and open their minds to new ideas. Fanny Liem’s illustrations are instantly engaging for children and, importantly, intriguing for adults. Readers’ will enjoy Liem’s drawings and Fegan’s writing of the distinctively bespectacled Reginald as a slightly zany and lovable bibliophile whose expressive eyes tell of excitement, resolve, and kindness. Fegan has a knack for turning a small story in a small setting into a laugh-out-loud epic battle between mouse and man. Can you guess who wins? This is a cozy, funny, and heart-warming tale for all ages.
Pages: 44 | ASIN: B07PB4NHBY
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The Day that A Ran Away is an adorably witty story about the letters of the alphabet deciding not to show up. Do you write your stories with children in mind first, or parents and teachers?
I always write my stories to be enjoyed by children first. Even though the book has a primary purpose of teaching the alphabet to children, I wanted it to be fun – something they would enjoy reading.
This is a very cute idea, how did this idea develop and change as you were developing the story?
I really began the story with the idea of making a simple concept picture book into something more of an adventure. Thankfully the first few lines of the book came together quite quickly which made the presentation of the alphabet a bit more straightforward. Essentially, Jet is caught by his teacher without his homework – something that students are prone to do at some point of their school life. However Jet’s excuse is quite imaginative as he talks about each letter’s frustrating escape.
It may sound strange, but with the trajectory of the story in place, the story actually flowed quite well. In the end there weren’t any major changes required. I know – bit of a boring story!
The art, as always, is very good. What was the art direction you wanted in this book?
I think my biggest priority was having all the scenes linked together as Jet walks to school. So each page connects with the last and foreshadows the one to come. In addition, I wanted each character to be made up of a color that begins with its respective letter (ever heard of Xanadu Gray), and for there to be a number of objects in the illustration that begins with the same letter for children to find.
Overall, I described each scene to Lenny and she turned them into something spectacular. She even added a few of her own Easter eggs which was fantastic! I’m very lucky to have an illustrator that not only understands my thinking, but knows my entire approach.
I loved how each letter has its own look and feel. Was this something that you brainstormed with Lenny Wen or did you already have ideas for each letter?
I agree, the letters came out looking great! No, all credit belongs to Lenny for the look and personalities of each letter. The only direction I had in this respect was the color of each letter and the basic anthropomorphic requirement. Lenny came back with the idea of giving each letter a connection to something children could identify (i.e. ‘A’ being an astronaut), as well as an emotion (‘arrogant’).
Master Jet has forgotten to complete his homework… or has he? Jet’s teacher is surprised to find that instead of the alphabet, his page is completely blank. Jet tries to explain that it really isn’t his fault. After all, how can he help it, if none of his letters want to stay on the page!
Posted in Interviews
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The Day that A Ran Away is an adorably witty story about the letters of the alphabet just deciding not to report for duty one day. Master Jet is trying to write the alphabet and he just can’t do it with all the letters on holiday. Each letter has either decided not to show up or has had something that prevented it from showing up. Understandably, it’s hard to write the alphabet without even one of the letters. Master Jet may think he is fooling his teacher, but Mrs. May is way too smart to fall for his creative tricks.
My kids are much older now, but they would have loved this book when they were little. The writing is catchy and flows well for reading aloud. The rhymes are cute. The colors are bright and eye-catching. This was especially always a hit with my own children. The illustrations are beautiful. It is very visually pleasing. It is also funny. It made me laugh a couple of times. I actually think it would be fun to read aloud. Any parent who has had to read the same book one hundred times can tell you how important it is to have a story that flows well verbally.
My favorite part of the book is the beautiful illustrations. They are by Lenny Wen. As with most children’s books, the illustrations are a huge part of whether the book is a hit or not. Since most kids are being read to at this stage, the illustrations have to really appeal to them. A nice touch was adding a few “hidden” images within each letter’s page—having the kids match the letter with the object. My kids would have loved trying to find these little gems. Overall, the artwork is beautifully done.
Together B.C.R. Fegan and Lenny Wen have created a catchy, appealing story for little kids and their parents. I really enjoyed it. I believe kids and parents everywhere would enjoy it as well.
Pages: 33 | ASIN: B07DMN4VVP
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Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 takes young readers on a journey through the magical Hotel of Hoo where they’re introduced to many strange guests. What served as your inspiration for this imaginative hotel and its occupants?
The concept was really born from the title. I had wanted to write a counting book for a while but one that carried a stronger narrative than many others in this particular category. After I had the title, everything else just came together. I think that there is something about doors that sparks a natural curiosity, particularly in young children. I wanted to extend that curiosity by placing the story in a setting that would really compound the mystery. A magical castle, to me, holds a lot of intrigue and seemed like an excellent place to begin a curious journey.
There are a lot of interesting creatures behind each door. My favorite was the miniature giants. What was your favorite to write and animate?
I have so many! For most of the characters there is a fascinating juxtaposition between the general perception of their stereotype and a characteristic they embody in the story. Some of the other creatures are simply a play on popular culture. However a few of them are just plain cute. If I had to choose only one favourite, I think it would be from this last category – the big-headed monkeys.
While I was writing this character, I had in my mind something so adorable that it would make a great stuffed toy. What’s exciting about working with Lenny is that we both think similarly. She was able to take my thoughts for this idea and really bring it to life with brilliant expression. They may not be a typical mythical creature, but I think they nevertheless compliment the overall enjoyment of exploring this hotel by diffusing the expectation that each character needs to have some kind of creepy characteristic.
The story is told in rhyme and each door has a theme which, I think, makes this book great for the classroom. Was it challenging to write the story in this way or was it natural?
After I had the idea, the story itself flowed quite naturally. The fantastical nature of the castle meant that each door wasn’t restricted to a single concept or any established rules. I think this is (in part) what both pulls you along in the story and tempts you to linger – every door is a portal to its own unique and perhaps unexpected theme.
I don’t want it to send like I’m begging, but please tell me this story is going to be expanded on in future books?
Ooh, now that’s an interesting question. It was definitely a fun story to write so I wouldn’t rule out a sequel. I’ll let you know…
The magical Hotel of Hoo is a mysterious place with some very unusual occupants. As our guests explore the strange hotel, they are invited to experience everything it has to offer with just one warning… don’t ever look behind door 32.
This imaginative picture book aims to take children beyond the first ten cardinal numbers, and introduces them to the patterns of counting in a fun and accessible way. With rooms to explore and unique objects to count, children will enjoy lingering on each page as they make their way closer to the forbidden door.
Posted in Interviews
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B.C.R. Fegan’s Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 takes young readers on a journey through the magical Hotel of Hoo where Mr. Nicholas Noo gives his first-ever guests constant reminders to avoid, at all costs, door number 32. Behind each door leading up to 32, guests are treated to many surprises, some creepy and some quite humorous. Entertaining rhymes help light the way through the castle-like establishment as both the readers and the guests of the hotel meet and greet a bevy of characters who have taken up residence behind the first 31 doors. What lies behind Door 32? I’ll never tell!
I really love Fegan’s books for young readers. Lenny Wen, illustrator, creates some of the most vivid and striking images you will find in children’s literature. Wen gives his characters amazingly expressive eyes whether they are screaming in terror at ghosts cooking roasts, doing a double-take at a paintbrush-wielding elf, sneaking peeks at tea-drinking monsters, or (my favorite) marveling at miniature giants.
This particular tale takes on a Halloween feel and serves as a fabulous book to read aloud during October or as part of a monster-themed unit for elementary grades. As a third grade teacher, I can see using this book with my students to study rhyme, compare and contrast the findings behind each door, or as an inspiring writing prompt. The possibilities are as endless as the number of creatures housed behind each of the doors in the Hotel of Hoo.
Fegan does an excellent job of periodically reminding the reader that Door 32 is somewhat of an enigma and, possibly, the most feared of all doors in the Hotel of Hoo. Suspense builds throughout the book as the second-person narrative draws young readers into the different rooms, page by page, and treats them to a fantastic assortment of zombies, ghosts, wizards, and many more creatures of lore.
Fegan and Wen are, book by book, mastering the kiddie lit genre. With each successive book, their plots and accompanying illustrations take on more depth and even more vibrant characters. From the very first pages, this one has the feel of a classic in-the-making.
Pages: 36 | ASIN: B078VSML8V
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Titch the Itch, written by B.C.R. Fegan and illustrated by Lenny Wen, is the tale of an animated little itch who wants nothing more than to make friends the only way he knows how–by doing his job. When his wayward, “no-reason-at-all” itching isn’t appreciated in the home of one large family, Titch the Itch seeks to make friends outside the home. Trying his luck with a cat, a neighbor, a police officer, and a park full of children, Titch learns that life is hard for an itch of his sort. His journey leads him to the hospital where he soon learns that he has had a bigger impact than he realized.
B.C.R. Fegan has constructed a touching story centered around the personification of a lowly itch. The author has managed to take a difficult concept and design a precious plot surrounding the poor little itch’s desire to be needed and to have lasting friendships. Titch is a memorable character with whom young readers will empathize. As he moves from one character to the next, he experiences rejection and disappointment. Fegan has included some important lessons in this wonderful picture book. In addition to friendship, the author teaches the benefits of being determined and the results of perseverance.
As with any children’s book, it is essential to include those moments of humor. Fegan does not lack in this area. The unforeseen circumstances surrounding the conclusion of the book are whimsical and encourage children to reread the book to find things they may have missed–a wonderful aspect to include to inspire young readers to delve further into the intricacies of text. As a teacher and parent, I more than appreciate those small amounts of mystery which energize readers. Kudos to the author!
The illustrations for Titch the Itch are fantastic. Lenny Wen’s vision of Titch is a cross between a ghost and a friendly dust bunny–exactly how one might visualize an itch. The facial expressions of Titch absolutely make the story. His woeful looks tug at the reader’s heartstrings. The color schemes chosen to brighten the pages make this a beautiful story to read aloud.
B.C.R. Fegan’s story of the needy little itch just looking for friendship is a sweet tale perfect for teaching young readers about the value of friends and loyalty.
Pages: 33 | ASIN: B076342B9D
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B.C.R. Fegan’s Henry and the Hidden Treasure is the story of one little boy’s quest to keep his “treasure” a secret from one person in particular. Henry’s tale of overwhelming desire to keep his treasure box from his sister’s clutches leads the reader on a journey into a child’s imagination and its endless possibilities. The threat posed by his baby sister is the driving force behind a long string of scenarios designed to trick, intimidate, and trap his sister as he shields his beloved treasure from her greedy hands. Henry, for all his planning, learns a valuable lesson about jumping to conclusions in the process.
Henry and the Hidden Treasure is a delight in both text and illustrations. As a third grader teacher and parent and one who has read more than my share of picture books to Kindergarten through 5th grade students, I can say Fegan has written a real gem. Children of all ages love a surprise ending, and the author has more than provided such a conclusion with a fantastic build-up and an added bonus on the last page. Teachers appreciate the opportunity to have students predict endings, and Fegan and Wen’s last page of text allows us to do just that with the simple yet powerful lone illustration of Lucy stealthily peeking at Henry.
The author/illustrator team of Fegan and Wen has created a story for both families and classrooms. The older brother versus baby sister dynamic is addressed via detailed, colorful illustrations which demonstrate the intensity of a child’s imagination. Each subsequent illustration adds a sense of drama children find appealing. My personal favorite of all the illustrations, as a mother, is the one depicting the reality of Henry’s room.
Teachers looking to create text sets for their students will find Henry and the Hidden Treasure a delightful addition to sets alongside books like Charlie McButton Lost Power where sibling rivalry is the theme. With the open-ended conclusion given by Fegan and Wen, I certainly hope there is a sequel to the saga of Henry and Lucy.
Pages: 32 | ASIN: B0719JXRRT
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The Grumpface is a charming children’s book about a grumpy old man in a forest and Dan who needs to find a flower for his love. What was the inspiration for this charming kid’s book?
What inspired me to write The Grumpface was seeing that particular grumpy face a child pulls when things aren’t going their way. I have witnessed it on so many occasions, and each time I find it hilarious. What makes it so funny is that quite often parents will naturally try and make the young child smile or laugh. Sometimes this is all it takes to break the curse, yet often this only serves to make them more determined to remain grumpy. The Grumpface himself is the character that embodies this determination to remain grumpy and resist anything positive or amusing. In this sense, he goes beyond the grumpiness of a child and becomes the identity of the pessimist or those caught up in negativity.
Dan on the other hand is the natural antithesis to the Grumpface’s outlook on life. He is optimistic and hopeful even when things aren’t working out for him. His quest for love actually provides the setting for negativity and positivity to meet head on.
I felt that this book was good at teaching morals of persistence, compassion, and friendship. What themes did you try to use when creating this book?
First and foremost I wanted to create an enjoyable tale that excited the imagination. Rather than beginning with a theme, I started with the desire to inspire the imagination. I remember as a child reading some books that were enjoyable, and others that held such intrigue, that they challenged your perception about life. This is really where I tried to begin. I wanted to forge a tale that was memorable, inspiring and filled with adventure. What better way to do this, than to write a new kind of fairy tale.
The morals that were subsequently woven into the story though were intentionally light and simple. It has unfortunately become common for children’s books these days to be so distracted by the message, the tale itself seems to be an afterthought. As you have already mentioned, there are a number of morals such as persistence, compassion and friendship that come up in The Grumpface. Yet for the most part these morals simply arise naturally through the considered development and interaction of characters. As mentioned previously, perhaps the most overarching theme in the book is simply the power of positivity over negativity.
The art in this book is lovely. What was the art direction like and what decisions went into choosing the right images?
The art direction for The Grumpface was a little unique and certainly experimental. Every other children’s book has been briefed with an overarching ambience and emotion that I’m hoping to convey. Each page of text is then detailed down to the perspective of the scene, the emotional response of the characters and any unique aspects to the setting. I am still open to any deviation from the brief if the illustrator is compelled to try something different, but the brief provides a place to begin.
For The Grumpface, I wanted the illustrator to try something different. Instead of providing strict direction, I wanted Daniela to simply draw the scene that the text conjured in her mind. As a fairy tale, it was important to that the text carried enough depth and richness, so that even without pictures, it would still capture the mind. Daniela was very open to this and would send a short summery of her thoughts for each page (which would be approved or slightly amended) before providing a draft. At this point there might be some minor adjustments. When all the drafts had been complete, there was a final check to ensure that everything flowed smoothly before the final drafts were created.
This particular process meant that the illustrations took considerable time to complete and get right, but in the end it worked out well. The book has received numerous comments on the artwork and the impact they have on the tale itself. I think Daniela did a great job!
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The next book will be available on the 3rd of August 2017 (so not long now). The title is Henry and the Hidden Treasure, and it is about a child who attempts to defend his pocket money from his little sister. Henry is convinced that Lucy is a secret ninja spy who has been sent to steal his treasure and he therefore constructs some elaborate defences to try and stop her.
The book highlights some important themes such as listening to parents, being nice to your siblings and carefully considers what constitutes real treasure within the family context. Henry and the Hidden Treasure also introduces children to ordinal numbers in a subtle and imaginative way.
Like The Grumpface, my first priority with this coming title was constructing an exciting and imaginative tale that children will find themselves thinking about long after it has been put down. It is my hope that the many tales to come will continue to provide that magic and inspiration for children young and old.
Dan is a young inventor in love. He ventures into a forest looking for a rose but instead finds the mysterious Grumpface who threatens to hold him captive unless he passes some difficult challenges. What follows is a humorous adventure that neither Dan nor the Grumpface could have anticipated.
The Grumpface is a tale in the spirit of any grand adventure. It is about a clumsy young inventor’s quest for love, and the challenges he must face to find it. But it is also a tale of bravery, absurdity and happiness, and the power of these qualities over negativity and sheer grumpiness.
Every parent will be acquainted with their own little ‘grumpface’ now and then. This story stands as a small piece of hope – that no matter how ingrained the grump, there will always remain in every one of us a smile or a laugh just waiting to come out.
Posted in Interviews
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