Baby’s First Hashtag is a self-aware board book for millennial-ish parents to read to their children. Written by Ottawa-locals Susan Allan and Scott Feschuk, it’s a funny and sarcastic take on parenting in 2018.
As any parent that has read some of the mind-numbingly mundane kids’ books can attest, a little adult-level humour goes a long way. Thick board pages for the audience to paw at, or chew on is also great. Throw in an approachable cadence and rhyme scheme and you’ve got a recipe for success.
The authors of the book were kind enough to chat about the new book and their inspirations.
Apt613: Great book – sarcastic and self-aware … did you write it for parents or babies?
We definitely want to see if we could come up with something that children would ask for time and again – and parents wouldn’t mind reading over and over.
Susan Allan: We very much hoped it might entertain both of those audiences. Back in our days of endless story-times, we had a special affection for books that were able to captivate our kids while also making us laugh or smile. We were fans of Art Spiegelman (Open Me … I’m a Dog), Maira Kalman (Ooh-la-la, Max in Love), Dav Pilkey (The Paperboy) and anything by Anthony Browne or Peter Sis. That’s off the top of my head.
Scott Feschuk: Board books look like a cinch to write, but little kids are fickle audience. We definitely want to see if we could come up with something that children would ask for time and again – and parents wouldn’t mind reading over and over.
More and more books/shows have been showing the honesty around parenting. Any inspirations?
SA: I have enormous appreciation for anyone willing to share the messier details of parenting. Cat and Nat have certainly found an enthusiastic audience with their mom truths. We are also fans of Brandie Weikle and the New Family Podcast.
SF: It’s an interesting trend, for sure. Many parents use social media (especially Instagram) to portray their lives and their children as perfect. Yet some are also quite willing to broadcast the difficulties, frustrations and tedium. I’m a fan of anyone who is willing to be candid.
The rhyme and cadence are a small but important aspect for reading parents and listening children and this book’s got a great pace.
SA: Hey, thanks — that’s really nice of you to say! We were lucky to work with some amazing editors at Douglas & McIntyre who were dedicated to those very details.
The colourful images do seem to entertain my little co-blogger (he likes the selfie page best).
SA: There really are so many sweet and silly faces in the pages of our book. We thought the mirror on the selfie page might be a fun way to add one more!
How much of the book is based on your own experiences?
SA: I will confess that “K is for kale … expired again” was inspired by my own best intentions. The wilted bouquet of greens featured on that page came straight out of our fridge.
SF: It’s true. Our home has been the final resting place of so many healthy superfoods that were bought with the best of intentions and, a week or so later, disposed of with the greatest of shame. Also, there’s a reference in the book to “artisan” bread – which was really the jumping-off point for us. Kids today are growing up in a world where they’re going to encounter a lot of words that don’t really mean anything. The bread we’ve got in our cupboard right now is made by a huge multinational company, yet it claims that the loaf is “artisan inspired.” Riiiiiight.
What do you hope parents take from the book?
SF: So much of parenting is repetition, especially in the early stages of a child’s life. We just hope that our little book joins the pile of stories that help a kid go to bed happy at the end of long day.
Big thank you to the authors for their time and patience setting up an interview around nap schedules.
Baby’s First Hashtag by Susan Allan and Scott Feschuk is available throughout Canada and is carried by local stores like Planet Coffee, the Village Quire and Mill Street Books. This October, the book will be released through the US.