Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 14, 2021


Josh Crute has written a new picture book, HORNSWOGGLED! A WACKY WORDS WHODUNIT, illustrated by Jenn Harney and published by Page Street Kids. It is available on November 23rd in bookstores. PSK has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner living in the United States.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Josh and Jenn.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


Deer wakes up to find one of his antlers is missing…and there’s a tennis racket in its place? One by one his friends also uncover that their important items from glasses to lucky boots have been swapped with silly, useless replacements like donuts and swim flippers. They’ve been hornswoggled! (Hornswoggled means tricked.) It’s pure poppycock! (Poppycock means nonsense.)

Once they gather together to find out what happened, will they find the true thief or be outfoxed? Laugh along with a hilarious cast of animal characters searching for the mysterious trickster in this humorous whodunit bursting with exciting, wacky words that kids will love.


Some book journeys begin with a character. Others begin with a concept or an idea. Hornswoggled! began with some good advice. And Luke Skywalker. And a single word—can you guess which one?

I used to work in a bookstore. One evening, a very admirable picture book writer/illustrator came into our department. He kindly fielded my questions and told me that, sometimes, he starts with only a cover—a cover that would grab his attention and make him want to read the book inside. Then he sets about writing a book worthy of that cover.

I took his advice. I am not an illustrator, so instead of a cover, I started with a title. I had recently come across an interview where Mark Hamill (the actor who plays Luke Skywalker) used the word “hornswoggled” in a sentence. I knew the word, but I’d never heard someone use it in everyday conversation before. And WHAM! The spine of a picture book flashed into my head. One with a single word on it:


I was intrigued—and amused. What kind of wacky story would a book called Hornswoggled! be about? I determined to find out.

I started with the word “horn,” and before I knew it, a deer had popped onto the page. Being the brilliant writer that I am, I named the deer, “Deer.” Deer awoke to find his antler missing. He cried “I’VE BEEN HORNSWOGGLED!” and skedaddled out the door to warn his neighbors. I hurried to keep up.

I began to research silly slang. I discovered that there was a whole mess of deceitful words like “hornswoggled” that had animal roots. “CODswallop!” “HOGwash!” “HumBUG!” “MONKEY business!”

The bones of a madcap caper, akin to “Henny Penny—The Sky is Falling,” began to piece themselves together like a dinosaur fossil. The plot became a ‘wacky words whodunit’ about a rascally varmint who was sneakin’ round the forest, stealing animals’ prized possessions and swapping them out with junk.

I took inspiration from many places. From eccentric friends who liked to play croquet while shouting words like “skedaddle!” and “rutabaga!” From fictional detectives I grew up reading like Hercule Poirot and Jack P. McGurk. And, most of all, from Walt Kelly’s Pogo, one of my favorite comic strips, which followed a cast of critters in the southern reaches of the Okefenokee Swamp. The plots of Pogo were fast-paced, breathless, and breakneck, full of jubilant jargon and charismatic chaos. Hornswoggled! became my attempt to pay tribute to Kelly’s work.

Once I had a draft, I moved on to the next step—one that every writer looks forward to and fears. The “Is it any good?” step. This is where you test your manuscript out on trusted eyes and ears. I braced myself and waited for people to say, “No.” I thought Hornswoggled! was too silly. Too weird. Too specific to be on a shelf at a bookstore. But the “No” never happened.

First, my writer’s group liked it, so I kept working on it. A wily Fox appeared (“I’ve been OUTFOXED!”).

Then my agent liked it, so I kept working on it. A skunk detective emerged (“I’ve been SKUNKED!”).

Then a publisher liked it, so I kept working on it. A friendly Bison was added (“I’ve been BUFFALOED!”).

The next stage brought in new collaborators. My editor, Kayla Tostevin, helped me finesse the story. Our illustrator, Jenn Harney, brought the armadillos, catfish, and polecats to life. She set them in an eye-poppingly yellow O Brother, Where Art Thou?-style forest. Then the wizards at Page Street Kids took the whole thing and made it into an honest-to-goodness book.

So, now, we move to the final step—one that every writer looks forward to and fears. The “Is it ACTUALLY any good?” step. This is when the finished book hits stores, libraries, and homes. So, to everyone who worked on the project and helped me along the way, and to everyone who reads Hornswoggled! and enjoys it, I’ll end with two words, instead of one: “THANK YOU!”


Josh Crute grew up on the beaches of Florida. He kept the local library busy as a child, checking out the max number of books allowed per week and wearing them so thin it’s a wonder the binding stayed together. After studying film production in college, he moved to California to pursue directing, but got distracted by a job at a bookstore and decided to return to his first love.

He is the author of several picture books, including Oliver: the Second-Largest Living Thing on EarthJonas Hanway’s Scurrilous, Scandalous, Shockingly Sensational Umbrella; and Hornswoggled! His upcoming graphic chapter book series, Super Serious Mysteries, will be released from Harper Collins in 2023. Josh lives in Alabama with his wife who patiently puts up with his fart jokes.


Jenn Harney has been working in and around the children’s market for the last 25 years—first in coloring books and textbooks, then as a toy designer, and finally ending up doing what she always set out to do, illustrating for kids. Her work has been featured in Highlights for Children as well as several picture book titles.

She has illustrated the Wanda Seasongood chapter book series by Susan Lurie, as well as the picture books How to Become a Knight (in Ten Easy Lessons) by Todd Tarpley and Never Trumpet with a Crumpet by Amy Gibson. Underwear! marked her debut as an author/illustrator, and she followed it up with another adorable read-aloud, Swim Swim Sink, both published by Disney Hyperion. She is the author of the Hazy Bloom series, including Hazy Bloom and The Tomorrow Power and Hazy Bloom and The Pet Project.

Jenn lives in Clevelandish, Ohio, with her husband, her daughter, and a corgi named Steve, and a fish with nine lives.

Josh, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. I love wacky books and Jenn’s illustrations add to the fun. Kids  love to laugh, so I’m sure this will be popular with children  and that’s no poppycock. Good luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. The story looks so fun and the illustrations are just awesome!


  2. I love whodunnits and this books sounds like my kind of humor too! Congratulations, Jeff! I had fun reading about your books journey. I receive your blog daily, Kathy, and I posted this on Twitter. I can’t wait to read this book!


  3. You had me at Hornswoggled, Josh! Can’t wait to read it. Congratulations!


  4. I just added this book to my Goodreads–I love, love word play and your book is going to be so much fun to read and I know will make me laugh every page. I’m an amil subscriber and shared:


  5. Oh my goodness, you had me at wacky words and “hornswoggled”! And with the amazing Jen Harney involved – beyond irresistible! I have to see this book!


  6. HA! This book sounds like so much fun – both the art and the words! I can’t wait to read it and share with my grandkids! Congratulations, Josh and Jenn!


  7. What a brilliant idea. A mystery and fun vocabulary…no gobbledegook here! Wishing you all the very best, Josh and Jenn 🙂


  8. Fun interview! Congrats, Josh! This looks like a prodigious amount of tomfoolery and I can’t wait to read it!

    Kathy, I shared on Twitter and get your blog daily.


  9. Too, too funny. So glad I get the emails (so I don’t miss these great posts)! Can’t wait to read this book.


  10. This looks so funny and clever!!! I can’t wait to read the whole book!!!


  11. I cannot wait to read this book! It looks so clever. I subscribe to your blog and I tweeted about the giveaway.


  12. How creative and clever! This book looks fantastic!! Congrats! I can’t wait to read the whole thing.


  13. This book sounds like so much fun and laughter, which we desperately need now. Thank you and congratulations, Josh and Jenn!


  14. Now I’m intrigued–what a way to start writing a wacky book! Congrats, can’t wait to be gobsmacked by your newest book:-) Kathy, I subscribe to your blog.


  15. Congrats, Josh and Jenn! This looks adorable.


  16. What a fun book! I’ll be on the lookout for it! I tweeted and posted on Facebook


  17. Oh my GOSH, I love the wordplay here. Can’t wait to get my hands on this book. Congratulations on a fun PB! (I also subscribe to Kathy’s emails.)


  18. This book looks so fun!! I’ve always loved different wacky words! Looking forward to reading this one! Going to tweet about it now.


  19. Adorable! My kiddo would love this. 🙂


  20. What a clever concept. Jenn Harney


    • is an amazing illustrator. I can’t wait to read this one. Shared on Twitter and I receive the blog daily.


  21. This looks like so much fun. Can’t wait to read it.


  22. One of my monthly posts, Word Nerd, centers on celebrating odd words! Snollygoster is a hit this week.


  23. How absolutely FUN!!!!! Ordered it into my Library and would love to have a copy in my own [Newsletter Subscriber]


  24. Also posted on here: and in the private Rate Your Story Mentor Text Talk Group.


  25. Thanks for sharing how the inspiration came to you and how this book came to life. How fun! I’d love to read it when it’s available, good luck!


  26. This looks hilarious! I love some good wordplay. Sharing on twitter!


  27. Sometimes I’m not sure what I love more…the book or the book journey! This is great 😀 How wonderful is the creative process and how ideas build ❤ Sharing! Shared on Facebook

    Liked by 1 person

  28. This book sounds so fun! I saw this post right after I statrlted someone by calling a tree a little cattiwampus. Guess I needed a little kidlit wacky in my life today. Can’t wait to read this one! I am a reqgular subscriber and I shared on Twitter. Thanks Kathy.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. This looks AMAZEBALLS! I’m all about wordplay. Can’t wait to read it! (Oh, and I just shared on Twitter!)

    Liked by 1 person

  30. How clever and fun! Love the title. Congratulations!!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Looks hilarious! And the words–Gonna be so fun to read! (and learn)


  32. What a terrific idea! Plenty of kids will be adding some fun new words to their vocabulary. (Kathy, I subscribe to your blog.)

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Love this so much! I’m crazy for whacky words. Reposted to twitter!


  34. What a fun book! I would love to share it with my students. I am always looking for a fun way to get them interested in words!

    I also RT on twitter to boost awareness.


  35. I love it! How much fun to introduce all of these unique sayings to young readers! Can’t wait to read it! Congratulations!

    Shared on Twitter and I follow by email. 🙂


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