In the September issue of Chickadee, we published the story “Teacher’s Pet” by Jeff Szpriglas and illustrated by Sandra Dumais. Did you know that the author, Jeff, based the dog Ruff-Ruff on his own pet? We wanted to know more so we asked him some questions. Read on!
Jeff and Padmé (Photo by Jeff)
Chickadee: What is your dog’s name? What kind of dog is she?
Jeff: Her name is Padmé; she is a poodle, and she was definitely named after a Star Wars character.
Chickadee: Did Padmé go to doggie school too?
Jeff: We got her during the lockdown portion of the pandemic, so there were no in-person dog training schools available to us. We did learn from some online videos, and my wife Danielle (who also writes books with me) is a lifelong dog owner.
Chickadee: Does Padmé also love to chase squirrels and grab hats?
Jeff: Yes. And Yes! She also likes to grab mittens and shoes and then play the chasing game with us. It’s delightful.
Chickadee: How else are Padmé and Ruff-Ruff similar? How are they different?
Jeff: Fun fact: I actually DO call Padmé “Ruff Ruff” and will even talk to her and ask her questions and then I’ll answer in a “dog voice.” My family does a good job of putting up with me when I do this. But back to your question, Padmé and Ruff Ruff both aim to please their owners, and they’re very happy dogs. Padmé has not yet learned how to roll over, but she’s not old so I can still teach her new tricks. In theory.
Chickadee: What did you love most about writing this story?
Jeff: It was really a way for me to show how much I love my dog. I grew up really fearful of dogs, and I definitely DID NOT WANT a dog. The cats and I were just fine. But I really warmed up to Padmé, especially on our long walks together, and our attempts at running together, or when she turns into “Dog Pillow” (the cats don’t go for that sort of thing). I wanted the story to capture what I think goes through Padmé’s head on a given day, I think I achieved that.
Thanks for sharing more about Padmé with us, Jeff! We love the story. Listen to Jeff read the story here: owlkids.com/listen
Do you like dancing along with The Wiggles? We do! And we had a chance to meet Blue Wiggle Anthony and new Yellow Wiggle Tsehay and ask them some burning questions sent in by Chirp readers. Check out their answers!
What is the best part about being a Wiggle? – Matilda
Anthony: You get to dress up every day in your favourite colour. And my favourite colour is blue! And I get to sing and dance and play songs for children.
Tsehay: I get to wear my favourite colour which is yellow. It matches my name, which means “the sun”. And I love to dance and sing with kids and have a great time.
Why are you called The Wiggles? – Lennon and Regan
Anthony: When we first made our music, we saw that young children kind of wiggled more than they danced. So we thought we’d make our name The Wiggles!
How do you come up with your songs? – Kayla and Emily
Anthony: When you write for children, you can choose from a whole world of ideas because children are so open and curious. We can write about fruit salad, yummy, yummy! Or we will write about a hot potato getting in the car, chug, chug!
Tsehay: The wiggles have different talents so it’s also about showcasing what each Wiggle can do. I love to dance!
Does Captain Feathersword actually live on a pirate ship? – Fallon
Anthony: He lives on land but he spends so much time on the SS Feathersword that when he comes off it he has sea legs! So he gets a bit wobbly sometimes.
Thanks so much to The Wiggles for answering our questions! And be sure to check out the Chirp blog later this month for a special Wiggles Tour Ticket Giveaway with our friends at Treehouse!
Left to right: Kyra, Noam, Julia, Glee, Vasili, Aliyah Rose, Izzy, Abby.
The Mini Pop Kids are Canada’s best-selling kids music group! They are currently travelling across North America, including a stop in Toronto, Ontario on June 12th, with their Bright Lights RELIT tour. You can dance along while they sing songs by BTS, Justin Bieber, Dua Lipa, Harry Styles, Olivia Rodgrio and more!
Glee, 11, is a member of Mini Pop Kids. Chickadee intern, Erin, had the chance to talk to her about what it’s like to be part of the musical group—read on!
What is the best part of being in Mini Pop Kids?
The best part of being in Mini Pop Kids is performing on stage. It’s what makes all those hours of practice worth it, and I love to meet the audience after, too!
How did you start performing with the group?
I auditioned for MPK (very nervous), made the team group (very excited!), and love being with the other Mini Pop Kids! We all want to put on the best show and music possible, and feed off the energy from the crowd, and each other.
Do you ever get stage fright? How do you get over it?
Yes, stage fright is real! But once I start my first move and vocal it all disappears … and I just become super excited and able to channel that energy into my performance.
What advice would you give to a kid who wants to become a singer or a performer?
Follow your passion and work really hard! Never give up! Your dreams will come true if you work at it!
What is your favourite song to perform? Why?
I love all the songs, but if I must choose one right now, it would be “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” because it is more than a song — each MPK gets to be a character. The music video was so much fun to film, and I love to stream the song. I hope the readers love it as much as we loved making it!