April 10th is National Siblings Day! To help us celebrate, we asked Tina Kügler to take us behind the scenes of Fox Tails, her Acorn series for early readers that features two very competitive, but always loving, fox siblings. Plus, download fun activities based on the series for your kids!
I am an only child. I was very shy, and quiet, and I spent most of my childhood quietly drawing and reading and generally avoiding conflict of any kind. You can see where this is going. Now, I am a mom. I have three boys, who are now teenagers. For most of their lives, they were in one small bedroom, sleeping in a bunk bed with a trundle. A trundle is like a giant drawer under the bunk bed with a mattress, you slide it out at night to sleep on. The oldest was in the top bunk, the middle one was in the bottom bunk, and the youngest one slept on the trundle bed. They fought all the time. In their room. At the table. In the car. Especially in the car. Everything was a competition. However, they were also stuck sleeping in the same room together, so it’s not like a fight with a friend where you storm off to your own house. They had to figure out how to get along and reach a compromise by bedtime. Ironically, or not, my oldest is going to college to pursue diplomacy.
My idea for Fox Tails began as a single picture book about two competitive fox siblings at bedtime, in a bunk bed. Scholastic liked the characters, but wanted me to expand it into a series of stories. Those stories are actually my memoirs as a parent. One fox does something, the other one can do it better. Or bigger. Or faster. And it balloons into chaos every time!
But the siblings still have an underlying bond, they still take care of each other, and they end up working together to a compromise in the end. Do they drive each other and their parents crazy? Of course! But it’s important that no matter how outrageous the situation gets, it’s not mean and it’s never snarky—there is always an unspoken love to ground it at the end. That’s where Fred the dog comes in. But it can’t be too sweet either, it needs to feel like a real family dynamic, even if it’s talking animals.
Book one, The Great Bunk Bed Battle, evolved from my initial idea with the characters. The second book, The Biggest Roller Coaster, was inspired by trips to the county fair and theme parks—I was terrified of roller coasters. The Giant Ice Cream Mess, the third book, came from my first job, scooping ice cream. You really can’t go wrong with any combination of ice cream.
I love writing beginning reader books, and I’m so happy I get to share how-to-draw lessons in the back of the books. And check out the at-home activity pages!
More about Tina Kügler:
Tina Kügler wrote and illustrated the Snail and Worm series and the Fox Tails series. She is a 2018 Geisel Honor winner. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, three sons, and a cranky lizard named Jabba.
More about Acorn Books:
This series is part of Scholastic's early reader line, Acorn, aimed at children who are learning to read. With easy-to-read text, a short-story format, plenty of humor, and full-color artwork on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and fluency. Acorn books plant a love of reading and help readers grow! To learn more, visit scholastic.com/Acorn
More about Fox Tails:
The Great Bunk Bed Battle: It's time for bed! Fox siblings Fritz and Franny—and their adorable dog, Fred—get up to different bedtime shenanigans across three short stories in this full-color early reader. An imaginative bedtime routine leads the trio through a castle, a volcano, and even the center of the Earth as they debate whose bunk is best. But at the end of it all, these foxes find a way to meet in the middle. Learn more, here.
The Biggest Roller Coaster: Get ready to ride! Fritz, Franny, and Fred are spending the day at the amusement park. After sizing up the tallest, fastest, and loudest rides they can find, these foxes come together on the perfect coaster. Learn more, here.
The Giant Ice Cream Mess: When competitive fox siblings Fritz and Franny hear the ice cream truck on their street, they both imagine making the sweetest treat with different flavors and toppings. But there's just one problem: Their mom says they can only have one scoop each! Maybe Fritz and Franny need to ask Fred which flavor is best? Learn more, here.