A Q&A with the Stars of How to Surprise a Dad

Hi, Brother! Hi, Sister! This is the first time I've interviewed fictional characters. Thanks for agreeing to this interview. I know you have a million other things you could be doing right now.

You two are the masters of planning surprises. Please tell us about three of the surprises you planned for your dad. 

Brother: First of all, “Thank you, Mr. Schu!”  We’ve never been interviewed before.  It’s always, always Jean-the-author who gets interviewed.  

Sister: Yep, ditto to the thank you!  Okay, so my favorite surprise isn’t in the book.  One fall, we secretly planted crocus bulbs.  Dad had no idea until spring came, and the flowers peeked through the snow.  

B: I loved hiding hearts everywhere because weeks and weeks later he’d still find a random, forgotten heart.  

S: Another favorite was when we made a secret treasure map of our yard for his birthday surprise.  It was fun to plan, and it was hilarious to watch him follow the clues.  

Illustration Credit: Lee Wildish

The cake you made for your dad is really something. How could someone recreate it? 

B: It’s tricky, but with icing—lots of icing—it's easy.  First, make the shape of your dad’s head by piling up a bunch of cupcakes or by stacking different-sized cake layers.  Cover the pile with lots of icing. Use candy, nuts, and fruit bits to add his face, plus glasses, beard, mustache, hair, and ears.  Go wild!  That’s what our illustrator, Lee Wildish, did.

S: Or keep it simple.  Use just one layer of cake.  With a little icing, make your dad’s face on the top, flat part.  Kinda like decorating a pancake.  So much easier.

Illustration Credit: Lee Wildish 

What five words best describe your dad?  

S:   Outdoorsy.
B:   Ticklish.
S:   Good-listener. 
B:   Super-reader.

Please finish these sentence starters: 

Picture books are where we come alive! It's the only place we come alive!

Reading is exciting—alone or with others!

It’s exciting for me now, but I had a really hard time learning to read.  (So did Jean-the-author when she was a kid.)  I worked hard, and it seemed like everyone around me caught on easily.  I kept working hard and still I had trouble.  It didn’t seem fair.

B: Yeah, it wasn’t fair, because she did work hard.  And boy, did she get frustrated.  

S: Our author got frustrated too. But then finally, I learned to read. So if you’re struggling, hang in there. Keep trying and you will eventually learn to read. And like me, I bet you’ll LOVE reading!  

Jean Reagan and Lee Wildish...

S: . . . are a great team.  Jean sometimes gets a little too sappy or serious.  Lee ups the silliness.  In fact, I think he sometimes steals the show with his illustrations!

B: Did you know these two have never met? They haven’t even emailed each other directly. They communicate only through their editors and art directors. Surprising, isn’t it?

Illustration Credit: Lee Wildish 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked us...

B: ...if we’re going to star in another book.  Well, we’re not in their next book which is about  Santa.  But, I’m hoping we’ll be in the book after that. Mr. Schu, you’ll like that one—it’s about teachers, including a librarian, of course.

S: I want to be in the recess illustration, because I know some cool tricks on the monkey bars.  

B: I hear the classroom pet is an iguana, so I hope to be in charge of feeding and exercising it.  

B & S: Thanks, Mr. Schu.  Maybe you can interview us again when we're in another book.  Happy reading!

Thank you, Brother, Sister, and Jean Reagan! 

Borrow How to Surprise a Dad from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.


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