Of Mice and Storybooks: Children’s Book Author Messner Releases Fourth Book in ‘Fergus and Zeke’ Series | News

PLATSBURGH – Author Kate Messner wrote her latest digitally fun version, “Fergus and Zeke and the 100th Day of School,” in early 2019.

“Illustrated books take a little time,” said the Plattsburgh author.

“You have to do all your work as an author. You complete all of your revisions as an author, and you work on the book with your editor and make other edits.

“Then you hand it over to the illustrator, who also has a huge job to do. “


Heather Ross is the series illustrator for The Mice In and Out of Miss Maxwell’s Classroom.

“She does an amazing job, but she has to create all of these pieces of art, which takes a while,” Messner said.

This is the fourth book in the Fergus and Zeke easy-to-read series.

“These are books that are very popular with children learning to read on their own and who are ready for very short chapters,” she said.

“So we are talking mostly from the first to the fourth year. We also have early kindergarteners and older readers. “


Messner is working with his publisher, Candlewick Press, to find out what interests and excites children in this age group.

The first book in the series, “Fergus and Zeke”, was about a school trip to the Natural History Museum.

“Think of the dinosaurs, the planetarium, and the butterfly enclosures,” she said.

“The second book in the series is about the school science fair where these two classroom mice, Fergus and Zeke, want to do their own project.

“For the third book, we did ‘Fergus and Zeke and the Field Day Challenge.’ This is a school field day – the tug of war, high jump and parachute game kids play.

The protagonists are very excited about the event until they realize that all the activities, challenges and games were on a human scale.

“It’s not really convenient for mice to participate in a lot of these things, so they have to come up with their own field activities,” she said.

“So by coming up with this topic for the fourth book, I was thinking about more things that kids get excited about. “

Messner and his editor had talked about a number of ideas, including vacations and possible adventures a class might take in school.

“One of the things we keep coming back to is the 100th day of school because it’s something kids look forward to, and they do a lot of plans,” she said.

“A lot of teachers and librarians are doing curriculum projects – from math to art to physical education – that ties into these 100th day of school projects. We thought this could be a really fun connection and something to explore in Fergus and Zeke’s world as well.


On his YouTube channel, Messner recently posted an excerpt from the book read aloud by the author.

The video can be viewed on tinyurl.com/2p9xzby4.

“I did one of the chapters,” she said.

One of the chapters, Fergus and Zeke are trying to figure out what they can do for their 100th day of school project. One of the ideas is that they write a story with exactly 100 words. this activity and children write their stories about dragons, astronauts, bears and more.

Zeke volunteers to write the story and Fergus is the illustrator.

“He’s embarking on a story where a mouse named Fergus is chased by a monster,” she said.

“He runs and runs. Fergus isn’t thrilled to be chased down in the story. He runs and runs, and Zeke comes to a very suspenseful part of the story where a giant monster has grabbed poor mouse Fergus in its claws and… “

And that’s the 100th word.

“So we never know how the story ends,” Messner said.

“I decided to do this chapter in read aloud to share because I know that a lot of classrooms and libraries will be doing 100th day of school projects with the kids. It’s a really fun activity to have. kids can try to do that too.

Students will learn to script, plot, review, and edit while creating their own 100-word stories.

“To tighten them up, when your story is maybe 110 words instead,” Messner said.

“These are all great activities. I’ve had a lot of teachers interested in this and plan to read the book on the 100th day of school and then have the kids do this 100 word activity as well.

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Grover Z. Barnes