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Bruce Degen

Inside
SNOW JOKE: An I Like to Read® Book
A Conversation with the Author


Q: Bruce, please tell us about your most recent book, SNOW JOKE.
A: SNOW JOKE is for young readers, so there are just a few lines on a page. The illustration has to tell a lot of the story. Bunny is a nice young rabbit who loves the snow and Red is a squirrel who wants to be her friend but doesn’t always know how to do that. He thinks he is being funny, but he is really being a pest. And the title is a pun: It’s Snow Joke . . . It’s no joke.

Q: Where did you find the inspiration for the story?
A: I watched a new neighbor boy try to start a friendship with one of my sons when he was very young by being extremely insulting. My son could not understand why he did that. It took a little while for the boy to realize that he did not have to get attention by being obnoxious. It took a little patience, but they became friends.

Q: In the story, Red relentlessly teases Bunny, telling her it’s, “Just a joke.” But when Red becomes the butt of a joke, Bunny shows compassion and forgiveness. What message do you hope young children will get from this story?
A: The message is that being yourself is a whole lot better than just doing things for attention. Making jokes at another’s expense is not something that leads to friendship. When it is turned around and you see how it feels, it can really make you feel bad. Kids who tease are often surprised to discover how it feels when it happens to them. Lucky that Bunny has a kind heart and can see that Red needs a little help understanding how to be a friend.

Q: What is your favorite winter memory from your childhood? Did you enjoy playing in the snow as much as Red and Bunny do?
A: I grew up in Brooklyn in New York City and snow is great the first day. Snowball fights, snow forts on the stoop. By the second day the snow is grey and slushy. Sometimes the best part was when they called a snow day and closed school. But that was rare because there were no school buses. We all walked to the neighborhood school. Also a lot of Brooklyn is flat as a board and there are no hills to sled down. When my kids were small we lived in Brooklyn Heights and there was a big hill where everyone came to sled. There was a big fence at the bottom because there was a major highway and it was scary when you came to a stop by hitting the fence. No one ever went through.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to young authors or illustrators, what would it be?
A: Keep doing what you like to do. If it is important to you, you will find a way to do it that works. If you like to write or draw you will find the stories you want to tell. Think about things that made you happy or sad because strong feelings lead to good stories. Think about the books that you have read that have made an impression on you. Why did you like them? There are different reasons to like different things and if you think about it you will see why you were impressed.

About the Author

Bruce Degen is a best-selling author and illustrator of numerous award-winning books for children, including The Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole and Jamberry, which he both wrote and illustrated. He lives in Connecticut.  

Books by Bruce Degen

I Said, “Bed!”: An I Like to Read® Book Level D, Paperback
I Said, “Bed!”: An I Like to Read® Book Level D, Reinforced
Nate Likes to Skate: An I Like to Read® Book Level D, Reinforced
Nate Likes to Skate: An I Like to Read® Book Level D, Paperback
Snow Joke: An I Like to Read® Book Level D, Reinforced
Snow Joke: An I Like to Read® Book Level D, Paperback