Oh, Picture Book Builders people, I can BEAR-ly contain my excitement. Today, our friend Mike Boldt has returned for a visit in celebration of Find Fergus.
This book had me at the cover. An endearing bear named FERGUS who was hiding behind the title?! I mean, c’mon!
This is what Kirkus had to say:
“The continual voice of the speaker is that of a kind, patient instructor as Fergus follows directions, presents various choices for hiding places, and works to improve strategy. . . .An amusing introduction to the long-standing diversion of hide-and-seek books.”
Mike, welcome back to Picture Book Builders! Please tell us about your latest book Find Fergus.
Hi Tammi! It’s great to be back. Find Fergus is a play on a search and find style book, but where the main character is actually terrible at hiding.
What sparked the idea for this book? A friendly game of hide-and-seek with a bespeckled bear perhaps?
That would have been a great story if it were true, but like many of my ideas, the idea for this book literally came out of a conversation. One day while I was chatting with my friend, Dan Santat, I jokingly said I was going to make a “Where’s Waldo” book where Waldo was really bad at hiding. Dan stopped me and told me he thought that was actually a good idea (well, minus the use of Waldo) and that I should do that book with my own character. The more I thought about it the more I realized there was a story there after all, so I took his advice! He is Dan Santat after all.
This book is not only a fun read-aloud with a just right alliterative title, but it’s a great example of narrative voice. How did you go about creating this warm, encouraging, we’re-all-in-this-together-to-support-our-pal-Fergus voice?
There was some search and find for myself to find just the voice for this book. Originally, Fergus was the one talking to the reader asking for more chances to find a new hiding spot. But in working with my amazing editor, Frances Gilbert, we realized when Fergus was talking, we were sort of guessing/assuming a certain response from the reader to what Fergus was saying – which could lead to a disconnect. Once we swapped it to the reader/narrator’s voice encouraging Fergus along followed by seeing Fergus’s response, it felt like a stronger connection between the reader and Fergus. Now we (the reader) were able to share the success Fergus eventually finds.
Did you face any particular challenges while working on Find Fergus?
I actually struggled quite a bit with choosing a direction with this book. I loved the initial idea so much, but I felt like I had two directions to go with it, and I really wanted to get it right. Is Find Fergus a search and find picture book, or a picture book about a search and find. It may not seem like much of a difference, but I wrestled forever with it. In the end, I went with the latter, which felt more natural for me and for the book. Finding the heart of this story, that we wanted Fergus to improve his hide and seek skills, was what finally sealed the deal. It’s something I often share with my own kids, and kids at school – that Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes progress.
Please share some of your early sketches for this book. Did it take a while for you to find just the right Fergus? (Did you see what I did there?) 🙂
Ha ha ha. Well played! Sometimes a character can be difficult to figure out, but you could say Fergus’s final design was much like him, easy to find. I decided to take a different approach to the artwork in this book from my usual work. While it’s not a true search and find, I wanted to give the nod to all those classic books that I poured over for hours as a kid. So a black outline with flat colors quickly felt right. Then I figured Fergus would need a main identifier, so the glasses of course, to complete the “Waldo” like tribute.
I love the endpapers for this book. They are probably my Favorite Endpapers of 2020. Mike, I wish wish wish we could discuss their awesomeness, but I don’t want to spoil them for anyone.
Sooo…it’s PSA time: Reader, I highly recommend you go purchase this book and/or ask your local library to order it, so you can discover those endpapers for yourself. You won’t be sorry. You will be happy. And, if you want to send cookies to thank me for this recommendation, well, I won’t be mad.
I’m so glad you liked the endpapers and hope readers do, too!
Mike, if you had one key piece of advice for writers and/or illustrators, what would it be?
I think my final advice would be similar to the theme of this book. Practice makes progress (NOT PERFECT). In my own work, once I moved away from striving to make a project perfect, I became much happier with what I was creating. Now, instead of feeling down after measuring my work against others or something that can’t be reached, I just measure it against what I’ve done before. It’s usually an improvement… usually ha ha.
Scoop time! What’s next for you?
After Find Fergus there will be a couple books out in 2021 that I illustrated. Bloop (by Tara Lazar), and Good Night, Alligator! (by Rebecca Van Slyke). They probably won’t be too hard to find either!
Thank you for having me back, Tammi. I sure appreciate it.
Thank YOU! 🙂
Mike Boldt is from rural Alberta, and is the author and illustrator of more than 20 books, including Bad Dog, A Tiger Tale, and the I Don’t Want to Be a Frog series by Dev Petty. When he’s not drawing ridiculous animals or people for stories, he can be found sharing adventures and laughs (and his ice cream) with his family. Find Mike online at mikeboldt.ca or instagram @thatmikeboldt.
Mike is offering a SIGNED copy of Find Fergus! For a chance to win, comment on this post and/or create a post or RT a post about this interview on Twitter. Be sure to tag Mike @MikeBoldt and Tammi @SauerTammi.
The winner of a copy of The Ghosts Went Floating, written by Kim Norman and illustrated by Jay Fleck, is Claire Noland. Congratulations!
As a pre-published children’s writer, I really appreciate the advice of measuring your work to what you’ve done before and not comparing to others. I was working on my own book with a similar theme- that when we’re working to achieve a goal, it might take some time to get there or we might not become an expert but we at least get better. Already I was thinking as I read your post, Tammi, this book is sooo much better, but at least mine is better than what I’ve written before. Can’t wait to read the whole book!
Feeling wanty for Fergus! Soooo cute!
Oh my goodness, this looks adorable! I love the Waldo-glasses tribute! So fun! 🙂
So fun…thanks for sharing!
OMG! I can’t stop laughing. The name alone is hysterical. Thanks for sharing.
This looks like so much fun! Can’t wait to read it!
Fergus is absolutely adorable! He just makes me smile every time I look at him.
This book looks adorable AND fun! I can’t wait to “Find Fergus!”
Congratulations, Mike!!!!!! This looks/sounds hilariously fantastic. Can’t wait to see it!
Mike Boldt visited our school last year and our students loved his presentation and his books. As a school librarian I am pleased to say that his books are still some of the most popular in the library from kindergarten to grade 6. We are waiting excitedly for Fergus’ arrival.
thank you for your advice. Terri
Smiling sooo big, and thank you for those great words to live by concerning practice….
This book looks adorable! My kids would love it! And the interview was so fun! Thanks for sharing.
Wonderful interview, Tammi and Mike. Now I need to see those endpapers.
This book is adorable!
This sounds wonderful! And I love the illustrations. Can’t wait to read Find Fergus!
I think I’m going to “find Fergus” so entertaining! Congratulations, Mike. I can’t wait to read this!
This is an informative post–I enjoyed hearing about this adorable bear from idea spark to finding the heart of the story to seeing the finished pages. I can’t wait to read this book. I’m a huge fan of this author/illustrator.
“Find Fergus” looks very funny and engaging!
Congrats, Mike! Looks and sounds like a fun book!
What a great idea! Can’t wait to read “Find Fergus.” And thanks for the encouraging advice: Practice makes Progress. Going to add that sticky note reminder to my laptop!
This looks, dare I say, precious. Can’t wait to read it!
LOVE the premise (as well as the alliterative title! is that a word?) and I know kids love books where they know something the character doesn’t know – like “we see you!” Good luck, Mike!
Can’t wait to see those end pages! Congrats, Mike!
Looking forward to getting my hands on this one. I’m so curious about the end papers. The book looks super cute. Thanks for an interesting post.
Looking for this one!
Too cute!! Congrats, Mike!
This looks adorable.
This looks very cute. My students would love it!
We love all of Mike Boldt’s books and can’t wait to read this one!! Yay!!!
Do you use an i pad pro to illustrate?
What fun! I will look for Find Fergus. Can’t wait to see the end papers.
This book looks super cute and fun, cant wait to read it with my kiddos ?
“Practice makes progress”…words to live by! I look forward to finding Fergus. : )
Mike, this looks sooooo fun! Ordering now…
Kids will eat this up! Thanks for letting us know about this great interactive story.
“Find Fergus” looks like lots of fun! Also, I appreciate your point that “practice makes progress (not perfect!).” I need to remember that.
The suggestion to measure progress and not compare your work to others is what I needed to hear. I generally aim for perfection and get stuck.
I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy to see the end papers.
This is such a funny book for parents (in addition to kids) because, like Fergus, toddlers can’t hide either. Well done!
If I were a bear, I think I’d propose to Fergus! I love him!
What a great idea for a book, and the main character is so cute! I find this particularly spot on as young kids are usually so bad at hiding–I’m sure lots of adult readers will get a chuckle out of Fergus. Can’t wait to read this book!
Congrats! This book looks like a lot of fun!
This looks like such fun. I can imagine how this would lead kids to play Hide-and-seek with their stuffed animals. And maybe it would teach kids how to be helpful to a friend who is not as adept at a game as they are. It this breaking the 4th wall in reverse? The audience/reader as narrator. So cool.
Lokks amazing! Can’t wait!
Looks amazing! Can’t wait!
I love this concept! Mike hit it out of the park with Fergus. I can’t wait to read it. Thanks, Tammi and Mike.
This is such a fun and creative idea as a book. I like how Mike said, “we wanted Fergus to improve his hide and seek skills.” This is such a kid relatable theme, like Mike said, of wanting children to figure it out for themselves with little nudges. I can’t wait to read this book and see how it all ties together. The motto, “practice makes progress” is also sticking with me because I do not like the word perfect. Glad I was sent to this interview. Well done and I’m grateful to be inspired each day to keep writing.
Love it! Would love to have Find Fergus in our book collections!
I loved hearing about the process!
I love reading your process. This is a funny book. Thanks for sharing.
This is so great! I love the concept- it made me laugh immediately as I remember nieces and nephews that are terrible at hiding. So cute. I also love Mike’s advice on measuring progress. My mantra as I push myself to get manuscripts and portfolio work finished has been, “Done is better than perfect!” There is a time to rein it in and edit and polish our work, but first a mind dump of words and doodles gets me to the heart of it. Thanks for sharing.
“Practice makes progress!” Love this. I spend far too much time trying to do things perfect–need to stop and think! Find Fergus is on my list. Thank you Mike and Tammi for this inspiring post.
This book looks adorable! And the advice is so good and encouraging! Thank you for sharing!
I love how the original idea came to be; name-dropper! ?
I hope this giveaway has not expired because I’d love to win this for my kiddos. I love the cover!
Congratulations, Mike! This is such a cute and fresh concept. Fergus is adorable and I can’t wait to find him.
It’s so wonderful to see a character learn and stumble on the way to building a skill. I don’t think children (or adults) hear/see/are exposed to that reality enough these days. This is a fun concept, and Fergus is really cute to boot! 😉 Congrats! Hoping Fergus finds his way into the hearts of many readers. 🙂
This book looks great, hope to win a copy for my twins!
Love Fergus! Bear-loving kids of all ages will love him