Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.
Today we’re excited to be able to talk to Kevin Brougher, the author who received a Mom’s Choice Award for his delightful rewriting of the classic fairy tales: Three Little Pigs, Jack and the BeanStalk, The Gingerbread Man, and Little Red Riding Hood. Written in a fun rhyme pattern and updated so no characters come to an unhappy end, these books are favorites with young children—and the parents who read them to their kids.
MCA: Kevin, before we get into your wonderful Grandpa Kevin picture books, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was a teacher in public schools for 30 years. I had some wonderful years teaching fifth grade. Back then we still had a lot of flexibility, so I was able to let my creative spirit flow into the classroom. I then moved up to the middle school setting, where I was mainly teaching math and science. After a number of years there I was offered a position at the high school level teaching algebra and geometry. I loved it all.
I have always loved being active outdoors—biking, hiking, tennis, pickleball, cornhole, golf, etc. A big hobby, which is more than a hobby now, is developing family tabletop games—board games, card games, dice games.
MCA: With so many diverse interests, what was your path to becoming a writer like? What inspired you?
Both my parents were teachers, but it was my mom who was always writing and sharing clever poems for special occasions. My dad had taught me how to play guitar, so starting in college I began writing songs. Many of my education classes allowed me to develop my interest in writing poems and songs.
Once I started teaching there was always motivation and inspiration for writing. My second book published (Dreams, Screams and JellyBeans) is a collection of silly and serious poems that I wrote and shared with my students.
One inspiration, in particular, developed into my first illustrated children’s book. I was working at an elementary school and the mascot was a dolphin. A parent had illustrated a newsletter with three flying dolphins that were wearing Santa hats and sleighbells. This turned into my story Reindolphins: A Christmas Tale, which I read to my fifth graders and my daughters each year for Christmas. I was always looking for someone to illustrate it. One day, after my youngest daughter had graduated from Cornish School of the Arts, she came to me and said, “Dad, you know that Reindolphins story… I think I can illustrate it.” She did and it has gone on to win eight awards.
MCA: Sounds like the perfect collaboration! What was your inspiration for writing your Grandpa Kevin books?
I was visiting my daughter when she was pregnant with twins. We were looking at her growing collection of books. We picked up The Three Little Pigs and read it. She looked at me and said, “Dad, you can do better than this.”
So, in all the updated classics, I have turned the basic story line into rhythmic verse so the stories can be easily be sung. Then, I did change some of the storyline. No character is eaten and there is some type of lesson or thought at the end.
My grandkids definitely inspired the “Grandpa Kevin’s…” series. These books are divided into three categories: 1) Classics redone, 2) Not your typical introduction to concepts, and 3) Other.
MCA: What are some of the key lessons found in your books?
In the Three Little Pigs it’s: Always have a plan “B”!
In the Jack and the Bean Stalk it’s: When life gets hard, plant your beans and climb a stalk!
In the The Gingerbread Man it’s: Gingerbread men are made for CHILDREN to eat!
In the Little Red Riding Hood it’s: Open your eyes—be wise and remember, Grandma knows best!
MCA: What do your Grandpa Kevin books have in common?
All the books use a triple rhyme format. The first two lines rhyme and the last line rhymes with the last word in the NEXT stanza. It was/is definitely a challenging format. The other thing that they have in common is award-winning illustrator Jessica Warrick. She brings so much expression and life to my writing.
MCA: What kind of response from readers have you received? Do they enjoy the rhyming—and the story “uplifts”?
Well, from the musically inclined I always get the thanks for the rhythm and rhyme factor. There are always comments on the art, and everyone makes some mention of how the original stories were a little “rough.” They appreciate that the wolf doesn’t get eaten by the pigs, the gingerbread man doesn’t get eaten by the fox, and Little Red Riding Hood is not eaten by the wolf.
MCA: What is next for your writing endeavors—do you have anything in the pipeline?
Grandpa Kevin’s… Chicken Little just came out recently. I love the premise of him getting all of these followers blindly following along. Spoiler alert: the fox does not eat them—they do make it to the king. The king has some good words of wisdom for all.
The other one, which is close to completion, is a little story I wrote a couple of years ago called The Story of Krit. It has a good little message that all ages need to remember. I am also introducing a new illustrator: Christina Wald.
I also have many new games that are coming out—a couple that I am very excited about and can’t wait to share with Mom’s Choice!
MCA: Your latest projects sound delightful. Thanks so much for visiting with us and sharing your inspiration!
You can learn more about Kevin Brougher and his award-winning books, Grandpa Kevin books by visiting his MCA Shop pages.