I’m thrilled to welcome author Katelyn Aronson back to the blog to celebrate the launch of her latest picture book: POO-DUNIT? A Forest Floor Mystery, Illus. Stephanie Lebaris (Candlewick).
Katelyn and I met via the DREAM TEAM, a group of go-getter #kidlit authors & illustrators whose goal is to help spread the word about our books, especially when in-person events are few and far between.
I’m pretty sure you’re wondering the same thing I am,
so let’s get started, shall we?
Q 1. What in the world inspired an elegant ex-pat / former bookseller / French-teaching author, living & working in France and Switzerland, to write this hilarious rhyming tale of animal poo, POO-DUNIT? A Forest Floor Mystery—?
Katelyn Aronson: Ha! What a question. I believe it was in the summer of 2018 that my husband and I were watching a nature documentary together. It was all about wolves, and a camera had been set up in the woods to record the passage of any wildlife during the night. Well, a wolf came by at some point and did his “business.” After that, all the other creatures that happened to pass that way stopped to smell what he’d left. I found that particular way of leading an investigation hilarious, not to mention fascinating story fodder.
My story ideas, however, always take a few months to germinate. So it wasn’t until winter of 2019 that I was mulling over this scatalogical mystery idea. Suddenly I gasped and yelled to my husband “POO-DUNIT?!!!!” (As my husband is French, I had to explain my play-on-words.) I then feverishly wrote the story in one sitting, giggling all the way (yet wondering if my agent would even touch my stinky manuscript with a ten foot pole).
Life Imitates Art
Katelyn Aronson: And, yes, I live between France and Switzerland, within the limits of the Jura Regional Park, which is basically made up of mountains, lakes, golf courses and agricultural land. Just before spring AND just before fall, farmers begin their infamous épandage —manure spreading over the fields.
It starts with the biggest pile of poo I’ve ever seen, and amounts to a very…ahem…odorous couple of days, during which one should avoid picnicking in one’s backyard. I moved here 2 years after selling POO-DUNIT? so perhaps life imitates art after all…
ED Note: I already LOVE the rhymes, don’t you?
Q 2. How –and where –did you do research this book?
Katelyn Aronson: I researched online during the writing and revising of the story (from inside a cozy cabin in the middle of a Swiss snowdrift). It’s no exaggeration when I say that researching the details turned my stomach several times. Once winter was over, I went to my local museum which happened to be showcasing a special animal scat exhibit…as if it was all meant to be!
Q 3. What do you hope young readers will take away from POO-DUNIT?
Katelyn Aronson: First, I hope they take away laughter. (Life is way too short, but it is also way too serious!) Second, I hope they realize that when life—or the powers that be—dish out poo, there is always some unexpected way to work ones humble magic and turn that ugliness into something beautiful. Much easier said than done. It takes hope and heart, courage and creativity to transmute negative energy into positive, but that’s what this story is about.
Q 4. Are there other books in the queue? Can you share anything about them?
Katelyn Aronson: My next book, WHEN PB MET J (illustrated by Sesame Street artist Sarah Rebar) releases next January from Penguin Random House.
You might call it a kitchen condiment retelling of West Side Story. Although no one bursts out in song, there is a “Friday Night Jam” dancing scene.
Coming in 2025–with Mermaids!
Katelyn Aronson: Far off in the future (2025) my first story starring humans and mermaids will release from Candlewick just in time for summer. ORPHELINE, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk, tells the story of a lonely little girl named Cora who finds a merbaby washed up on her shore and becomes convinced that the mysterious baby is hers to keep.
ED Note: this means we’ll have to have you back! Yayy!
Happy POO-DUNIT Book Birthday, Kate!
To learn more about Katelyn Aronson and her books, follow her on
and check out her website: katelynaronson.com.
AND…click these links to check out Kate’s earlier blog appearances for
Up next on the blog:
Fractured Fairy Tales + STEM + Kidlit tips with “Literally” Lynne Marie.
And then–It’s the (almost / July 5th) Book Birthday of Megan Hoyt‘s new PB bio, The Greatest Song of All– How Isaac Stern United the World to Save Carnegie Hall, illus. Katie Hickey, (Quill Tree Books).