I recently had the opportunity to interview John McClung about his first book: What Should I Put on My feet to Go Run? It is an enchanting children’s story about a bear who doesn’t know what to wear on his feet. He wants to go out and play in the "honey sunny day" but cannot decide what he should put on his feet. His mother gently guides him through all of his choices, reminding him that a "bear’s foot should be barefoot". I loved this story, and so did my children. They were all giggles when Bear asks if he should wear
golf shoes or snow shoes, or tap shoes, or slippers?
Or loafers, or Mukluks, or clown shoes - or flippers?
This story is full of beautiful word pictures, charming illustrations, and an entertaining lesson about being barefoot. John McClung’s story is witty, delightful, and fun. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning more about this lovely tale and more about McClung through his blog and this interview. There are hundreds of “barefoot” books for adults; now there is one for children too. I hope to see more stories about Bear’s barefoot adventures in the future.
Can you tell us the story behind the story What inspired you to write this book?
I actually started with the pun and worked backward. One of my nicknames for my wife Emily is little bear, since she is petite and quite bear-like in some ways (especially in her fondness for berries and naps). During one of our conversations last summer I was encouraging her to run barefoot (as I often do) and I said, “barefoot’s for a bear’s foot”. Emily immediately said that that sounded like a line from a children’s book. I thought about it for a few minutes and came up with something along the lines of :
Barefoot's for a bear's foot, that's the best way
For a bear to run around on a honey-sunny day.
Emily thought that really sounded like a children's book and insisted that I keep going. I spent the next two days working on it off and on and by the end of the second day the book was more or less finished. (The second day was mostly spent coming up with different types of shoes and trying to get them to rhyme.)
What is your favorite part of the book?
The artwork, definitely; Laura really did a beautiful job. As far as the text goes, my favorite section is:
You just need some feet and some fur in the breeze
And some grass and some sunlight, and maybe some trees.
I love that part, largely because it reminds me of all the joyful runs I've been on.
Do you have a favorite pair of minimalist shoes or do you prefer to be barefoot?
Being barefoot for me is either the most fun or no fun at all, depending on what the conditions are. When being barefoot isn't practical, but the weather's warm, I love running in Luna sandals. During this past winter (and it gets pretty cold up in the mountains here) I spent a lot of time in my Socwas with wool socks underneath. For casual wear, I'm a big fan of Lems.
What is your favorite outdoor activity?
Trail running, the longer the trail the better. I started running ultras last September, and I seem to be hooked. There's nothing like being out on the trail for hours at a time--especially if you can feel the breeze on your toes.
Where can our readers purchase your book?
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Yes, two things. One, please visit my blog Barefoot in Arizona.
Two, here's a true story you might enjoy:
A few months ago, (not long after I wrote the book) I was out running on a trail in the woods near where I live when I saw a young black bear running toward me. The funny thing was he wasn't lumbering along like we think of bears doing, and he wasn't charging me. He was just running along, on the same trail I was on, as relaxed as he could be. It was as if he were out for his morning jog. Of course, as soon as we saw each other we both bolted in opposite directions, but I love the fact that for that one brief moment that bear and I were out doing the exact same thing on the exact same trail, and that he seemed to be enjoying himself as much as I was. I can't help but wonder how many other animals take their morning constitutional on that trail when I'm not around. Oh, and the bear wasn't wearing shoes.