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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fuse 8 n’ Kate: Frederick by Leo Lionni

Frederick“If you’ve got a Leo Lionni book you’re not going anywhere very fast, but you’re gonna get there eventually.”

The old Ant and the Grasshopper fable got the Lionni touch back in 1967 when the four time Caldecott Honor winner chose to put a new spin on an old classic. So how successful was this book in the end? Is it a product of its age (the tune in and drop out 60s) or something that stands the test of time? At this point I’ve given up trying to predict how Kate is ever going to react to a given book.  In the course of things we discuss the fact that Frederick would have made a fantastic lawyer, how he progresses from emo to hipster, and whether or not that poppy on the cover has a special significance. Plus I get to mention Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and that ALWAYS makes for good podcast talk.

Listen to the whole show here on Soundcloud or download it through iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or your preferred method of podcast selection.


Show Notes:

– Yay, Cybils! We’re so pleased with the winner of the Picture Book category. Here’s the full list of Cybils winners, if you’re curious.

– Here is the sculpture by Leo Lionni that can be seen at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA.


According to the museum, “The sculpture, titled Imaginary Garden, was created in 1978 and was previously housed at The Fresno Metropolitan Museum of Art in California. The Imaginary Garden captures Lionni’s love for botany, evident in the attention given to flora and fauna in his picture book illustrations, as well as his book of fictional plants from 1977, Parallel Botany. The sculpture is a blending of the organic and the abstract, giving the piece a fantastic, otherworldly appearance.”

– Here are the endpapers. Kate was quite disappointed that this wasn’t, as she had hoped, the work of Frederick’s obsessed arch-nemesis.


– This is a Frederick who is filled with rage. Kate names him Emo Frederick.


– Kate thinks he’s brooding here, but I think he’s just dismissive.


– If you imagine the mouses’ noses are mouths, then they really do look like they’re singing, “Loo loo loo . . .”


– This is his poem-face. Frederick seriously could not be less excited about starring in his own picture book.


– In 200 words, single spaced, please explain the significance of the poppy on the cover of this book. You lose points for the more obvious answers:


– Here is the Frederick page on the site Teaching Children Philosophy.

– Thank you again, Benji Martin, for our faux and very kind award for our podcast! We received The 2019 Kid Lit Podcast Award.

– The board game Kate suggested was Dixit. Which I won. So it is good.


About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. I never, ever would have thought of Frederick as a lawyer. I’ll have to consider that. To me, he was always quite simply the character who stood up for poetry, assuring kids that it was noble and valuable in a world which says otherwise.
    I recommend to everyone interested in Lionni his autobiography, Between Worlds, (1997).
    Lionni;s Swimmy is definitely a labor organizer:

  2. It only occurred to me a few weeks ago that this book was a commentary on The Ants and the Grasshopper. I was like “Oh! I have made a deep literary insight here!” Hidden in plain, extremely obvious sight!

    Thanks for the game rec, it is so completely up my daughter’s alley!