FOX NEWS: Clyde Watson Interview! with special appearance by Aldren Watson

 Wow! Can you believe this?
I’ve got an interview with Clyde Watson, author of the spectacular Rhymes in Father Fox’s Penny Rhymes and many other books. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if Father Fox and Mother Goose squared off at a poetry slam, Mother Goose would be laughed off the stage.
But to make this even more incredible, Clyde Watson got her father Aldren Watson to answer my questions about the IMMORTAL “Where Everyday Things Come From.” Children’s non-fiction just doesn’t get any better than this book.
So here we go with the interview from March, 2008:
What can you tell us about the way your father worked? Especially on Where Everyday Things Come From. Did he
visit factories? Use taxidermy specimens? This is one of my all-time favorite books, so any little bit of information will intrigue me!
CLYDE:  I asked him if he had any comments on Where Everyday Things Come From–he answered that he did not visit factories or anything, at most looked things up in the Encyclopedia Brittanica, which lined one of our walls growing up. He had gotten the complete set as a bonus fee for a painting he did for the publisher, and it was heavily used by all 8 of us growing up.
As for how he worked at that time–his studio had a long wall of bulletin board on which he tacked up all sorts of ideas, sketches, notes–it was a most interesting place to wander around and read or look at his postings.  Being a cabinet maker and a person who could make or fix just about anything, I think illustrating Where Everyday Things Come From was a natural and engaging project for him, one that didn’t require that he do loads of research. He said he really wanted to portray the different processes for a child’s view and understanding.
Another all-time favorite book is Father Fox’s Penny Rhymes. What a combination of word and picture! What’s the alchemy like when you and your sister Wendy work on a Father Fox book? Often the pictures expand a lot
on the text or help clarify its meaning. Do you tell her what you’re thinking of? Do you suggest the speech balloons?
As I wrote, I always did so with her illustrations in mind. Thus I was able to picture the ‘scene’ done by her pen. We did go back and forth a great deal with ideas of what could be included in pictures or in the ‘word balloons’. Some of the ballooons (like the Little Martha poem) were poems to begin with, and we decided to put them in a balloon. Other balloons are just whimsical nonsense taking off in some way from the text or illustrations. It was a tremendous lot of fun doing that book.
What is the relationship between foxes and pigs in Father Fox’s world?
In one of my favorite rhymes, “the pigs are out” and look like they’re up to no good. Where did they escape
from, why are they so mad? Another blogger recently wrote about the page where foxes are eyeing a jump-roping pig on the playground. Just a joke, right?
I’m afraid I can’t shed as much light as you would probably like on the Pig/Fox relationship. I believe the idea is, that the Hogs are the rowdy lot who lived on the outskirts of the village, and that when they go out (as opposed to ‘get out’) they’re likely to go on somewhat of a rampage,  help themselves to things, act loud and generally liven things up considerably.
Alright, folks! Readers, head for the library. Librarians, order the books. Publishers, put “Where Everday Things Come From” back in print! Let’s move, people!
Click here to see more of my Watson Family posts:

Tidbits from the Watson world

Charlotte has just discovered Father Fox and I was leaving this info in a comment at her blog, and thought I’d put it here to.
You can live in the Fox world yourself:
Yes, it’s the Watson family cottage! For rent!
Somewhere online I once read a post from someone who had stayed there. It sounds wonderful, especially for someone who’s as big a Watson family fan as myself.
By the way Clyde Watson’s Website has much better information about the family than I had when I wrote my Watson Week posts.
This includes a link to a Watson I didn’t realize was a Watson: N. Cameron Watson, who as you can see also knows her way around drawing clothed animals. Simply amazing!

Father Fox a Fantasy World? Maguire says so….


I was stunned to see Father Fox’s Pennyrhymes on a list of Gregory “Wicked” Maguires five favorite fantasies. (apparently it edged out second-teir stuff like “The Wizard of Oz.”)

As you’ve read before, I LOVE Father Fox and the Watsons, but I have to admit I never opened my eyes to their “world” until I read Maguire’s list.
Wow, it is really eye-opening to think of this book as a work of fantasy, not just a beautiful book of better-than-mother-Goose-Rhymes and nifty illustrations.
But Wendy and Clyde Watson have done what the great fantasy writers do: they’ve created a detailed world with its own social system, politics, economy, entertainments, etc…

Watson Week: Spotlight on Aldren

Here’s the schedule for Watson Week:
Tuesday: Intro – Hogs are Out!
Wed: Nancy & Ernest
Today: Aldren
Friday: Clyde and Wendy (Poetry Friday)
Click here to see all the Watson Week Posts (so far).


 Writing about Aldren Watson gives me a chance to rave about one of my all-time favorite books. Favorite as a kid and as an adult. You can spend hours with this book and I have. I’ll be using a lot of pictures to point out Aldren’s greatness, so I split the post. Follow the ‘jump’ to see it all…


Did you see the duct tape? Yep, this book has been loved my two generations now and it’s fallen apart.

I love this cover. Did you see the fox in the bathtub…


Notice the family resemblance? That’s an inset of Wendy Watson’s Father Fox there, which came out several years before this book.

Continue reading

Watson Week – Spotlight on Nancy

Here’s the schedule for Watson Week:Tuesday: Intro – Hogs are Out!

Today: Nancy & Ernest

Thursday: Aldren

Friday: Clyde and Wendy (Poetry Friday)

Click here to see all the Watson Week Posts (so far).


To my understanding, Nancy is the wife of Aldren and the mother of Wendy, Clyde and Ernest. Here’s a sample of her work:


(note: This book illustrated by eric Blegvad, who needs his own post on of these days.)

Cammie takes the fly swatter.

Caitie is the fly spotter.

There’s a fly! Wham!


Missed him. Now he’s in the jam.

Now for Ernest. I haven’t been able to get my hands on one of Ernest’s books. But here are some available on Amazon. (The last was done with Aldren.)

Creative Perspective for Artists and IllustratorsComposition in Landscape and Still LifeThe Watson Drawing Book

He obviously has done books we kidlitters would LOVE to get ahold of, such as “Forty Illustrators and How They Work.”

Watson Week! Clyde, Wendy and Aldren

We’re celebrating the Watsons this week!

Growing up I spent many hours poring over Aldren Watson’s incredible “Where Everyday Things Come From.”

But only recently did I find “Father Fox’s Penny Rhymes” by his daughters Clyde and Wendy. (Aldren’s wife, Nancy, was a writer, I think, but I have not yet seen any of her books. And his son Ernest became an artist, also.)

We’ll celebrate both of these works and maybe some other goodies these week, ending with a beautiful painting/rhyme combination for Poetry Week.

Aldren and Wendy are fantastic illustrators, able to pack astonishing detail into thier pages. Meanwhile, Clyde’s rhymes rock the mic.

Wisn’t sick of these lousy, bottom of the barrel Mother Goose verses that don’t rhyme or have any sort of point? Clyde gives MG a lesson in nonsense that makes sense AND rhymes…

And then Wendy’s illustrations draw so much meanings from the handful of words. What a team!

Let’s kick of the week with a truly ridiculous Father Fox rhyme with a sublime drawing….

Knickerbocker Knockabout

Sausages & Sauerkraut

Run!Run! Run! The Hogs are out!

Knickerbocker Knockabout.


Here’s the schedule for Watson Week:Tuesday: Intro – Hogs are Out!Today: Nancy & Ernest

Thursday: Aldren

Friday: Clyde and Wendy (Poetry Friday)

Click here to see all the Watson Week Posts (so far).