Author Q&A: Lorri Horn - Dewey Fairchild, Parent Problem Solver
Dewey Fairchild isn’t just good with parents, he’s great with them. He’s so good at handling parents that he’s built a thriving business out of it. He even has a secretary, Clara—a great alibi and an even better baker. Dewey settles the most troublesome of cases, from an overprotective mom who won’t let her child go to class on her own, to a dad who can’t stop picking his nose any chance he gets! Dewey has no problem handling other people’s parents, but when he learns of his father’s plan to move the family to Alaska, he faces a challenge he never expected. Dewey can solve any problem parents may cause, but what will he do when the parents who are causing problems are his own?
Dewey Fairchild is a young man with a mission. He wants to help his peers solve problems with their parents! This is a book that parents and readers alike will love and appreciate as Dewey reminds kids that their parents are human too. Lorri Horn's debut novel is already receiving high praise from reviewers and readers. We sat down with her to talk more about what she's learned as an educator and how she hopes Dewey will influence young readers!
AJ: Can you tell us what inspired you to create Dewey Fairchild and his parent problem-solving business?
LH: I traditionally write non-fiction essays about issues on my mind. When I taught high school, for example, I wrote about teaching during times of economic scarcity for classrooms. When I stayed home with my son, I wrote about his first year of preschool. Often, in these pieces, I’d see some sort of problems going on in otherwise good situations, present them humorously, and rant about how they need fixing. Dewey is a fix-it kind of guy. So, I can see why he’d emerge, but truthfully, I have no idea how it happened. I usually plan my ideas out methodically. In this case, one day, the idea for the book just came to me, and then more ideas developed each day, many times surprising me with what came next as much as it will the reader. Dewey is a fixer, not just a suggester—which, evidently, I find much more satisfying.
AJ: You used to be a school teacher. How did being a classroom teacher influence your writing of this book?
LH: Well, thank you for asking that question! Being a teacher was an influence in a couple of key ways. The first is the humor and silliness I brought to the book. Students being authentically engaged with whatever material they have before them has always been essential to me as an educator. A gateway into engagement with students is often through humor, and I’ve always loved sharing that with kids. I also possess a love for word play and language and introducing children to just how closely they can help their reader smell a particular donut if they carefully compare it to other words their reader knows. While writing Dewey, I chose words carefully both to make children laugh, but also to help them see, smell, taste, and imagine the words they read—both to bring them to life in this world of ours that competes for children’s attention with quick-moving images, and to provide a model for them in their own writing as well.
AJ: We love how well you blend the problems of childhood with the problems of adulthood and that every age is respected in the process. What influence do you hope Dewey will have on his readers?
LH: Thank you. I would love for Dewey Fairchild, Parent Problem Solver first and foremost to make people laugh and enjoy a good read. Beyond that, it seems to me that we all come with our baggage and our issues, and try as we all might, it seems inevitable that each generation passes some of it on, either as a reaction to that stuff or a repetition of it. The more we know we do it, the more we can talk about it with our kids when it happens, admit our foibles, acknowledge them, laugh about them, apologize for them, and the better equipped kids are to make their own way through. Dewey Fairchild is the liaison because sometimes we don’t always do that as well as we’d like. No one really wants to admit she was picking her nose and rolling a booger into the carpet, you know? But Dewey helps us be the better person who can say, “Gosh, how embarrassing! I was just picking my nose right then! I felt so caught when you asked that I actually lied and said I wasn’t!”
AJ: Have you tried all the cookie recipes that Clara makes? Which is your favorite?
LH: No, not all of them, but I think I should! The ones I want to make the most are the ones I made up in my head as an idea—the chocolate chip cookie dough cookies. Firstly, chocolate chip cookie dough is my favorite ice cream, and I have been known to eat the entire pint because I am trying to get through the vanilla to get to the dough bites, of which there are never enough to please me. Secondly, I love the irony of a cookie made out of cookie dough that has cookie dough as its ingredient which is why I invented it (it’s entirely possible it exists and I didn’t invent it but as far as my own creative license goes, I did!). So that’s my favorite one.
AJ: What can we look forward to in the second book of the series, Dewey Fairchild, Teacher Problem Solver?
LH: Dewey and his friends have grown up over the summer and now will go to middle school. Some things stay the same, but lots of things have changed. They don’t have all their classes together anymore and things feel a lot bigger. Dewey will still solve problems, but this time he directs his problem-solving skills toward teachers. More cookies, more Clara, more Wolfie, and a whole lot more fun!