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Friday, September 9, 2011

Pfeffernut in the Pfair Pforest

Library Bound welcomes guest blogger, author Jill Kalz

It was about pfans and pfriends—the pfolks who already knew and loved my strange old farmer, Cap, and those who were meeting him for the very first time.

On August 29, my picture book Farmer Cap (Pfeffernut County series; Capstone) made its Minnesota State Fair debut in the Alphabet Forest, a place where letters danced and dangled between tall trees; books bloomed, ready to be picked and read aloud by families escaping the Midway mayhem and all kinds of greasy goodness on a stick; and little and big kids sported paper crowns and celebrated literacy with a hip, hip, HUZZAH!

I may have been the featured author in the Forest that day, but, really, it was Cap’s show. I was the roadie, carting a tub of 400 Farmer Cap heads-on-sticks I’d assembled (400 heads + 400 wooden sticks + 800 squares of adhesive goo), 400 colorable “Pfollow me to Pfeffernut!” stickers, and seven-dozen washable markers. And I was more than happy to stand by and watch Cap shine. He may be an odd duck, with his flip flops, shorts, and feathered alpine hat, but fairgoers welcomed him without hesitation. It wasn’t just “Minnesota nice” at work, either. The nearly 125,000 people who walked through the gates that day represented all parts of the country—and the world. One Farmer Cap head was adopted by a woman from Alaska; two more now have new homes in Japan.

Great coloring job!

Hundreds of Caps!

Dorks, wimpy kids, and nerds crowd today’s children’s literature bestseller lists, and I think that’s one reason why readers have a soft spot for Cap. He’s a grown-up version of a dork/wimpy kid/nerd! Kids who feel different, like they don’t quite fit in, can identify with Cap on some level and accept their own quirks, or, alternatively, say, “Hey, at least I’m not as goofy as THAT guy!” For other readers, I think it’s about the magic and mystery of his story. Whatever the reasons, it was fun to watch people connect.

Four Minnesota authors before me and eight more after me found old fans and new friends during the state fair run this year, thanks to Alphabet Forest creator Debra Frasier. And it’s safe to say, we all had a pfantastic time!

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