For the past four plus years, I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy the friendship of another human, author Victoria J. Coe, who believes, as I do, in the value and power of observing the world from another individual’s perspective. Her books about an over-the-top, energetic Jack Russell terrier have led me to comment on more than one occasion about her astute observations and research. It is no easy task to speak the language of our canine companions, but Victoria does it with such skill, I’ve come to believe she is part canine.
On July 16, 2015 it was a privilege to reveal the cover of the first book in the series, Fenway and Hattie. We chatted about writing, this first book, dogs and the irresistible Jack Russell terrier, Fenway. Upon reading Fenway and Hattie, I was paws-itively captivated from beginning to end. And this initial opinion, expressed in my blog post, has not wavered with repeated readings. For each of the three subsequent titles, Fenway and Hattie and the Evil Bunny Gang, Fenway and Hattie Up to New Tricks and Fenway and Hattie In the Wild we have been able to laugh and learn along with Fenway and his human, Hattie, as they grow to be their best selves.
Given my total admiration for this series, the selection of Fenway and Hattie as the 2017 Global Read Aloud choice and for One School, One Book, you can imagine my joy upon hearing Fenway and Hattie will soon be available in Spanish! Fenway y Hattie, the Spanish edition, will make the story of a dog and his human and their daily lives, after moving from the city to suburbia, accesibile to an even larger audience. I can already hear the laughter, and growing compassion, of a new group of readers, as they follow this story told entirely from Fenway’s point of view. I am happy to have Victoria here today to answer some questions before we reveal the cover of this new Spanish edition.
Victoria, congratulations! How excited are you that the Fenway and Hattie Spanish edition will soon be out in the world?
Oh my goodness, Margie, I am SO excited! Honestly, I had no idea this would happen, and when I found out I could not believe it.
I was heartily encouraged to take Spanish as a second language by my father. After studying for nine years, in my final class in college, I could listen to lectures in Spanish, take notes in
Spanish and read Spanish, understanding it very well. Do you speak Spanish yourself?
I do not and I’m impressed that you do! It’ll be such a funny experience when I get to flip through my own book and not understand the writing on the pages. You’ll have to read it to me. ☺
When I first read Fenway and Hattie, I remember telling you that this book was going to be huge. It was chosen for the Scholastic Book Club, then the Global Read Aloud. Now three sequels have come out, it’s a One School, One Book favorite, and soon to be coming out in Spanish! When are you going to start believing me?
You did say that, Margie, and it really is still very hard for me to get my brain around it. Two years later, I can’t believe the Global Read Aloud actually happened, and now every time I visit a One School, One Book school - which I do often - it’s overwhelming to see my little dog in the foyer, on the walls, in the classrooms, library, literally everywhere.
I’ll tell you, teachers are SO energetic and creative. I’m continually blown away by the activities and projects they do while reading the book. And of course, I can’t get enough of the kids. I’m just really thankful that this series has given me so many opportunities to connect with them. Any day I’m at an elementary school is a very good day!
What went into the decision for Penguin Young Readers to publish Fenway y Hattie, and how did that come about? Did you have any input into the translation?
I’m not 100% sure how the decision got made, but I do know there have been a lot of requests, especially from teachers, for a Spanish edition of Fenway and Hattie. There are so many areas in the country where children speak Spanish, so many bilingual classes and schools, and of course so many parents whose first language is Spanish, that teachers are always on the lookout for books in Spanish; especially books that appeal to children of all ages and families, and would make a great read-aloud.
As for how it happened, since I don’t speak Spanish, I wasn’t very involved at all. My editor, Susan Kochan, worked with a professional translator as well as a copyeditor in Spain. I do remember she asked me to clarify something in the last chapter, because as you know, Fenway’s observations can be taken more than one way. It was important to get the context right.
Since the publication of Fenway and Hattie my beloved Xena passed away and you lost Kipper, the inspiration for the first book. I now have Mulan, an almost three-year-old chocolate labrador retriever. While she exhibits all the canine qualities we love in dogs, she has her own quirks. Would you tell us how you went about introducing the personalities of the other dogs Fenway meets after moving from the city to suburbia? Did this entail additional research about different dog breeds? Are these dogs based upon dogs you know?
Well, I come up with personalities for the dogs in different ways. First and foremost is my deep belief that every dog is an individual, just as humans are. So while breed is a factor, it’s not the only factor. Mostly I try to remember that readers want to connect with the characters, so I want each dog to be relatable and unique.
Sometimes I like to give a dog a personality that’s totally opposite from how we think of the breed, like Goldie. She’s a golden retriever, but she’s a grump!
I know how much you miss Kipper, but do you have any dog news you would like to share with readers?
Margie, I know you asked this just so we can talk about the new cutie in our family! ☺ And yes, two months ago our son and his girlfriend brought home an adorable and very lively little pup named Teddy Graham. She stole everyone’s hearts immediately.
I’m being nudged by a persistent cold wet nose attached to a head and body constantly being wiggled by a tail. I think someone, namely my canine companion Mulan, besides me is excited to see this new cover. Here we go!
Fenway y Hattie by Victoria J. Coe releases in paperback on December 31, 2019 from Puffin Books and is available for preorder now.
To learn more about Victoria J. Coe and the other Fenway and Hattie books, please follow the link attached to her name to access her website. Victoria has accounts on Twitter and Instagram. If you are interested in the One School, One Book program access their website by following a link attached to their name.
Victoria J. Coe grew up a fan of books, dogs, and the Boston Red Sox. Today she combines these passions as the author of the middle grade series, Fenway and Hattie, told from the perspective of a rambunctious Jack Russell terrier named Fenway. With fellow author Elly Swartz, she also co-hosts the Youtube series BooksintheKitchen. Victoria lives with her family on the outskirts of Boston.