I first became aware of Robert U. Montgomery when I received a press release regarding his book last year, the first in a series of children’s books, titled “Who Let the Bugs Out.”I’m delighted to see that he has added book #2 to the lineup, “Who Let the Frogs Out,”which is loosely based on his childhood of growing up in eastern Missouri. I talked with Robert on the phone recently and here’s what he had to say about the book and the next one in the works.
‘Who Let the Frogs Out?’
I love the book and especially the illustrations. I think the illustrations make the book, don’t you?
Absolutely, that’s what really sells the book at book signings. People see the illustrations and they don’t typically buy 1 book; they’ll buy 2 or 3.
What’s it like to work with your illustrator, Katie Abbott?
Unfortunately, it’s a long distance relationship. I really like her sense of humor and how she can show different aspects of things I hadn’t even considered. She’s quirky. She’s working on illustrating my 3rdkids’ book, “Who Let the Dinosaurs Out?”
Now, that one doesn’t include you and your friends, does it?
Yes, it does! It’s the same premise. Are you familiar with the lizard called “the Ozark boomer?” They actually stand on their hind legs, so when I was a kid, I actually thought I had found a T-Rex, and I wove the story around that.
More about the Books
How did you even get the idea for this series of “Who Let the [fill in the blank] Out?”
Before this series, I wrote books with titles “Why We Fish,”and “Fish, Frogs and Firefiles: Growing Up with Nature,”and “Under the Bed.”They’re all based on things that happened to me as a child.
It sounds as though you had a Hallmark movie childhood.
Yes, I think so. I was fortunate; my parents weren’t nature people but we lived on the edges of subdivisions and it was a quick walk to the woods or farms.
Do you have a favorite character, one of the “4 Musketeers,” in your book from the “Who Let the ____ Out?” series?
It would be difficult for me to say. I’m a combination of the 4 boys [the 4 Musketeers]. I’m mostly Bobby, but I’m also Matt, and a little bit Benny and a little bit Carl. Matt and Bobby are more me, but Benny and Carl are friends I had.
Are you grandparents – who appear in “Who Let the Frogs Out?”—true to character?
Yes, very much. They didn’t actually live on a farm, but the story reflects me going to my grandparents’ house and doing those types of things.
When is ‘Who Let the Dinosaurs Out?’ going to be published?
It should be late summer, early fall at the latest.
What else are you incorporating into this series, along with a funny story and message.
That’s another thing, I’m trying to incorporate an outdoor game into each book – such as “kick the can” in the “Who Let the Bugs Out?” book. Kids need to get outside and play more. Nature is the greatest teacher in the world. It teaches you about human emotion and science. A classroom can only do so much.
‘Who Let the Frogs Out’: A Review
Having read “Who Let the Bugs Out?” to my grandkids, and seeing their reactions, I had high expectations for this one, “Who Let the Frogs Out?” It did not disappoint. Although the true critics, my grandkids, have not weighed in on this one yet, I think they will be tickled when they sit by me on the couch and see this one unfold. If it’s anything like the last one, they will be turning the pages for me, because I’m not turning them fast enough, and trying to guess the culprit’s name throughout the book.
We will have plenty of opportunities to talk about nature – about tadpoles, cricket frogs, terrariums and most importantly, about confessing to causing an action. In this case, an action that caused a hilarious reaction with Grandma jumping on the table.
Again, illustrator Katie Abbott creates page after page of brightly colored art that complements and actually, makes the story come alive.
I don’t want to spoil the moral of the story, but for once, it’s nice to see an unexpected turn of events at the end, and not at all what I thought would happen. Robert adds a twist in there, and makes all the characters even more loveable.
I can hardly wait to read this one to the little critics.
See “Who Let the Frogs Out?”on Amazon.