I interview author Bonnie Becker and Illustrator Mark Fearing about their so spooky, so fun picture book The Frightful Ride of Michael McMichael.
Q&A with Bonnie Becker and Mark Fearing
Q: What’s the appeal in writing/illustrating a spooky book for children?
Bonny: It’s fun! And challenging to walk that knife edge of scary but not too scary. It’s fun to walk to the edge of a cliff and look down—but only if the danger is an illusion. So I’m hoping The Frightful Ride of Michael McMichael hits that sweet spot.
Mark: I have always enjoyed spooky material. When I was seven or eight, my father would play old Frankenstein and werewolf movies on Super 8 and 16mm film on Friday nights. Reading scary things was part of how I learned to read, and I have seen this repeat in my eleven-year-old daughter’s life. That’s why the book is dedicated to her.
The best scary things are the scary things we can control. We can close the book, turn off the film. But interacting with these fictional and fantastical fears can give us great strength in dealing with so many of the fears we face in life. Things unknown, lurking in the shadows, are powerful metaphors. In fact, I suspect these “scary things” are the first metaphors most of us understand, even at the simplest levels. These are core elements of what it means to be human, to abstract the literal world and find meaning and fun in it.