Simply 7 with Vicky Fang: THE BOO CREW NEEDS YOU!

It’s not very often that I find a picture book that shakes up genres, but that’s exactly what today’s picture book does.

Fang_02-2020_2_SmallVicky Fang is a product designer who spent 5 years designing kids’ technology experiences for both Google and Intel, often to inspire and empower kids in coding and technology. She started writing to support the growing need for early coding education, particularly for girls and kids of color. She is the author, and sometimes illustrator, of twenty new and upcoming books for kids, including the Layla and the Bots series, Invent-a-PetI Can Code board books, Friendbots series, and the forthcoming Ava Lin series, Best Buddies series, AlphaBot, and The Boo Crew Needs You!. You can learn more about her at her website or follow her on Twitter, on Instagram, or on Facebook.

BooCrewCoverTHE BOO CREW NEEDS YOU! is a fun interactive Halloween book.  That’s right, you heard it.  INTERACTIVE!  This book has a set of cute characters who are racing to save Halloween, but they can’t do it by themselves.  They need the reader’s help.  From pushing buttons, to help finding missing items, this book will keep young readers engaged in the fun from the very first page.  And honestly, I think that this would be a fun read aloud even if it wasn’t Halloween.  It’s delightfully entertaining.  I haven’t seen anything interactive like this except in the board book realm in a few years.  It’s exciting to see something pushing the boundaries of genre expectations.

Welcome Vicky!

Me: Can you tell us a little bit about your writing and illustrating journey?  What brought you to this book?

Vicky: Yes! I started writing in 2016, just after my second son was born. I was a product designer at the time, but I loved reading books with my older son, who constantly asked me for stories. I connected with the wonderful kidlit community through SCBWI and 12×12, plus a couple of wonderful mentorships (thank you, Peter McCleery and Arree Chung!), and I fell in love with writing! Funnily enough, my second son constantly asked me to draw pictures, so I like to think he encouraged me into my path as a sometimes illustrator as well!

I had started writing books to encourage kids in coding and STEM, but my passion for STEM is really about empowering kids in problem solving, creativity, and collaboration.  At some point, because my kids LOVE Halloween, I was inspired to write a book about a collaborative crew of Halloween monsters trying to save Halloween! And what better way to empower the reader than to make them a part of the crew? That’s how THE BOO CREW NEEDS YOU! came to be.

Me: I love the interactive concept of this book!  It’s so creative.  What gave you the idea?

Vicky: Aw, thank you! Because of my background as a product designer, I’ve always loved the interactive nature of books. I was definitely inspired by books like PRESS HERE by Hervé Tullet for this one. But my first pass only had one, big interactive moment. When I shared it with my agent, she suggested I weave interactivity throughout. I put it away for two years after that, because the thought was so daunting! But eventually, I pulled it back out again and tackled it bit by bit.


Credit: Sourcebooks, Text ©2023 by Vicky Fang, Illustrations by Saoirse Lou

Me: I’m so glad you didn’t give up on it!  Did you originally write this story in rhyme?  Or did it start out in prose?

Vicky: The story was kind of a mash-up of two different ideas, which is how many of my books start. First, I had a phrase floating around with no story attached to it: “It’s a glitch! There’s a hitch! Something’s screwy with this switch!” Years later, when I started work on this story about a team working together to save Halloween, I thought that phrase was a perfect fit! At that point, I needed to learn how to really write in rhyme. I signed up for Renee LaTulippe’s amazing Lyrical Language Lab course and learned and practiced meter and rhyme. I highly recommend the course for anyone interested in writing in rhyme!

Me: Wow!  That’s a learning curve.  Not only is it rhyming, but it’s also written in the 2nd person point of view.  That’s very difficult to pull off, but it works perfectly with the interactive elements.  How many revisions did it take to get to this state with such a tight manuscript?

Vicky: It’s always hard for me to say how many revisions because it’s such a mix of tiny and major changes. But looking at my documents, I have six revisions that I saved as new documents, over the course of two years. And then, of course, a few revisions with my wonderful Sourcebooks editor, Wendy McClure, after it was acquired.

Me: I love that this is a Halloween story, but it’s much more than that.  Might there be other holiday stories like this in the future?  Or perhaps a series with the same characters?  (Please say yes!)

Vicky: Yes! In fact, I just finished a draft of Book 2 with the Boo Crew! I don’t know if can share the premise yet, but it will be another interactive adventure with the gang.

Me: Yay!  That’s such great news!  The illustrations by Saoirse Lou are wonderful.  I love these friendly monsters!  Were there surprises for you when you saw the illustrations?  Any favorites?

Vicky: I love, love, love Saoirse’s illustrations! I think Halloween is such a fun subject and Saoirse really leant into all of the wonderful details throughout the book, including her fantastic character design. I love the little animals peeking out throughout or the little details like a box of “Boo Berry” juice. I particularly love how she created a whole backstory with Frank’s Frocks shop, which wasn’t part of the story at all, but goes to show how Saoirse developed such rich settings and characters for every spread!


Credit: Sourcebooks, Text ©2023 by Vicky Fang, Illustrations by Saoirse Lou

Me: I love that.  The illustrations are incredibly fun and detailed.  What is your favorite holiday?  Is it Halloween or something else?  Why?

Vicky: I do love Halloween because of how much my kids love it, but I think Christmas is my favorite. Christmas is the one time of year we get my entire family together, with all of my siblings and nieces and nephews and grandparents, and we have so much fun!

Aww!  That’s wonderful.  Thank you for stopping by my blog today Vicky.

Dear readers, if you haven’t had a chance yet to read this one, I highly recommend it.  It’s hard to pull off a second person point of view, let alone include a different interactive element on every page, but Vicky does it here.  Plus you really need to see these wonderful illustrations to catch all the details that are included.  This is one you won’t want to miss.

One thought on “Simply 7 with Vicky Fang: THE BOO CREW NEEDS YOU!

  1. Pingback: Simply 7 with Vicky Fang: ALPHABOT | Jena Benton

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