Books

the story behind

Magoon’s nutty children’s book

Scott Magoon

Already adored by kids and parents for his children’s books – including “Spoon” and “Ugly Fish,” which he illustrated, and “Hugo and Miles in I’ve Painted Everything,” which he wrote and illustrated – local artist Scott Magoon tackled something new with his fifteenth book. In “The Nuts: Bedtime at the Nut House,” Magoon’s images harmonize with the words of author and musician Eric Litwin. The book comes with a code to download Litwin’s original song, an infectious sing-along about the nightly battle between the kids — Hazel and Wally Nut — who just want to keep having fun, and their tired mother who just needs them to go to bed.

Working with Litwin, Magoon said, was a thrill. “There’s a bit of a buzz around him,” he added. “He’s been so successful with his ‘Pete the Cat’ books,” a series that also features songs. “Seeing it come to life with the music is just exceptional, too. That’s a whole new angle to working on a picture book, for me.”

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Melrose native Magoon, whose two sons are now 7 and 10, says he’s always been influenced by his kids. Even as they grow into more mature reading taste, he says, his boys “still humor the old man and give me some feedback.”

What makes a great picture book, Magoon said, is hard to define but always includes “something that elicits an emotional response in kids — that can be funny, sad, scary.” In his own work, he tries to create great, appealing, memorable characters, and he delights in “the hidden elements in books, hidden meanings, puns.” In the world of the Nut family, subtle visual jokes include the parents’ copies of The Nut Yorker, and the kids’ posters for the band Nutvana.

Magoon will read at Blue Bunny Books & Toys, 577 High St., Dedham, this Friday at 6:30 p.m. Even though Litwin won’t be there, Magoon says, “I’m going to have to sing the song. I won’t do it justice but I’ll do my best, and hopefully the kids who are there will sing along.”

Kate Tuttle, a writer and editor, can be reached at kate.tuttle@gmail.com.
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