Background on the book

Tucker Took It! gave me a chance to showcase three things I enjoy.

I love theme and variation!

I enjoy the challenge of setting up a pattern and then playing with it. In the first book, Farley Found It, I established a number of patterns: a repeated phrase, "reveal" scenes where the main character solves a new challenge, and pages where the title character is hiding.

In this book, I kept the same patterns, but tweaked them. So, the hidden Tucker gets a little tougher to find than Farley was. I added a few visual "red herrings" to try to trick kids. I also added some close-ups of Tucker so that we could feel like we were in on his thinking.

Now that I've gotten started on playing with the pattern -- I can't wait to do it again! I'm already thinking of what I might change in the next book.

I love the mechanics of surprise!

Without getting too technical, there is a fascinating mental process that we all go through with a surprise ending. According to Paul McGhee's book, Humor: It's Origin and Development, it's called reversible thinking. As you can tell by the title of his book, it's also a part of understanding jokes.

Reversible thinking is needed when one reaches the end of a joke and realize that you've made a false assumption. At that point, you have to back through the joke and find the place where you followed a wrong path, make the correction and come back up the right path. That's what this little diagram I've invented shows. In my book, the wrong path I nudge readers onto is that since Tucker is hungry for corn, he'll just go and start eating everything in sight. But when they reach the ending, they realize that Tucker wanted things for very different reason. They have to use reversible thinking to go back to the point where they went down the wrong path to come back out the right one.

I love exploring this process of mental backtracking with kids. It's why I tell jokes at the end of many of my workshops with elementary students. Kids start developing reversible thinking around age seven. Watching them as the gears shift in their brain is great fun. More than that, it's an ability that is critical for creative thinking.

I wanted to give parents, teachers and librarians the same fun of going on this forward-backward-forward journey with young kids. My hope is that as you read this book, you will get to the end and then flip back through the story with your readers. Along the way, feel free to discuss how I tried to trick them into thinking something untrue about Tucker. I guess I'm the real sneaky one, not him!

I love classic movies!

Old movies are great fun, and I've tried to pass that love of great films to my kids. In fact, my daughter's favorite comedy movie actor is Harold Lloyd! (I've posted a guide to watching silent comedies with kids.) So it was a real pleasure to sneak into the book a reference to one of my very favorite scenes in movie history.

What is it? I'll leave you to guess. But let me just say that it came off without a Hitch.

Back to the main Tucker page

Teachers and librarians! Get discussion questions and an activity sheet you can print off to use with students.

See illustrations from the first book from Mrs. Zook's farm, Farley Found It!