By Rachel M. Anderson
(Lakeville, Minn.) – “What I saw on the farm caused me great alarm!” That got your attention didn’t it?
Children’s book author Gordon Fredrickson of Lakeville, Minn., sure hopes the answer is yes. It’s the phrase that makes his latest book, What I Saw on the Farm, work.
“I’ve always been a fan of Dr. Seuss and I was talking to one of my friends one day and said, well, maybe I could make up some words to go with my farming books, and I decided to go ahead and do a tale that was a little more wild… and that’s what I did,” said Fredrickson. What I Saw on the Farm is the
8th children’s book Fredrickson has written and published through Beaver’s Pond Press of Edina, Minn.
Kids young and old can’t help but laugh as they read about horses that drive, dogs that dance, hogs that dine and roosters that mow the lawn. Each character in the book comes to life in a whimsical drawing by 13-year old Bradley Simon of New Prague. Simon is the grandson of the author’s cousin.
“About a year ago I had a conversation with my cousin, and she mentioned that her grandson is really good at drawing. She was pretty enthusiastic about it so I thought to myself, I should see the boy’s work,” said Fredrickson.
When he did, Fredrickson knew it was time to get the book he had written back in 2004 published. “I was very impressed with Bradley’s drawing ability. He was able to create characters in a very unique way. It was more than just copying something. He had the imagination and skill to put his own touch into things,” he said.
Bradley Simon, 13, who lives in New Prague, Minn., has been drawing for as long as he can remember. “When I was younger I used to watch a lot of Scooby Doo and I would draw Scooby and the other characters,” he said. “I also drew characters from Teen Titans, and I progressed from there.”
Simon never thought he’d one day end up using his drawing skills to illustrate a children’s book, but when Fredrickson, known to the family as Gordy, approached him about it, he accepted the job right away. “I was nervous, I was excited and kind of shocked to be doing this at such a young age,” said Simon.
Once the contract was drawn up and signed, the young illustrator got to work on his first paying job. He drew most of the animals in the book from photographs he found on the Internet, but real animals were used as models for the chickens and horses. Simon ultimately drew 22 illustrations for the book, including the front cover, which shows three pigs sitting on chairs around a table. Each of them has a bib on.
“I‘m very happy with how everything turned out,” said Fredrickson. Because he doesn’t want to stray too far away from his mission, which is to show things as they really are, Fredrickson includes information about real farm animals throughout the book.
For example, opposite the page where there’s a drawing of three pigs sitting at the table eating, there’s a photo taken by the author's wife, Nancy Fredrickson, of real pigs eating out of a pig feeder. At the back of the book, the photos are repeated along with a caption that explains the action in the photo and names the owners of the farm.
What I Saw on the Farm is Fredrickson’s first book to be aimed at toddlers and preschoolers. “Most of my books were written for second and third grade and up, but I have found myself performing my stories for so many preschoolers (3 – to – 5 year olds), I thought why not try something like this specifically for a younger audience.
Now that the book is out, Fredrickson is busy making personal appearances at preschools throughout the Midwest, performing his story for the kids. He has also done several Skype appearances with out-of-town schools.
In his spare time, Fredrickson and his wife, Nancy, are hard at work on their next farming book. It is due out next year and will focus on harvest time.
What I Saw on the Farm retails for $11.95 and is available for purchase on Fredrickson’s website, http://gordonfredrickson.com. His other titles include A Farm Country Christmas Eve, A Farm Country Halloween, A Farm Country Thanksgiving, A Farm Country Picnic and three additional books in his If I Were a Farmer Series: Tommy’s Adventure, Nancy’s Adventure and Field Work.
About Gordon Fredrickson
Gordon Fredrickson was born in New Prague, Minnesota, and grew up on his family’s 120-acre dairy farm in hilly, rocky eastern Scott County. Like all local farm children, he began work on the farm as a young child. His chores included such activities as milking the cows, carrying water to the chickens and hogs and picking dandelions to feed the goslings.
After his childhood days on the farm, Fredrickson served in the U.S. Army for three years, earned a Master of Education degree at the University of Minnesota, and taught high-school English for 16 years before he started writing farm stories. Fredrickson and his wife of 41 years, Nancy, now live on a small piece of the property his parents farmed in the middle and latter part of the 20th century.