Preorder Now: The Ghosts of Eden Park

The Ghosts of Eden Park by Karen Abbott

In the 2016 movie Genius, the writer Thomas Wolfe (played by Jude Law) is asked to describe his new book. He responds all-too-seriously, “It’s about America—all of it.” My wife and I quote that line to death. Not only because it’s hilarious but also because some of the best books we read these days shed light on some hidden truth about America. Which is a feeling I get whenever I read one of Karen Abbott’s sumptuously written nonfiction books. At first glance, her latest book, The Ghosts of Eden Park, is the true story of the bootlegger who was the real-life inspiration for Jay Gatsby. But it’s also a window into the soul of this great, oh-so-strange nation of ours. The Ghosts of Eden Park is out August 6, and you should preorder it here now.

The first book I ever read of Abbott’s was Sin in the Second City, which was ostensibly about a Chicago brothel in the early 20th century but actually about a particular species of moral hysteria that felt scarily familiar to this modern reader (and still does). All of Abbott’s books—like the one about burlesque queen Gypsy Rose Lee or the one about Confederate women spies during the American Civil War—are true stories yet read like novels you can’t put down. Back in j-school we dreamed of writing books like this. They were the highest form of our craft; writers like Abbott raise it to an art form.

The Ghosts of Eden Park pubs just ahead of the 100th anniversary of Prohibition. It’s the true story of George Remus: a teetotaling bootlegger, erudite madman, and the strangest, most intriguing character Abbott says she’s ever encountered in history. Remus never wore underwear (quite the scandal in 1920s America), gave away brand-new Pontiacs as party favors, and spoke of himself in the third person: “Remus was in the whiskey business, and Remus was the biggest man in the business.”

Remus rides high until his wife falls in love with the very federal agent who incarcerated him, sparking a love triangle that reaches the highest levels of government—and which can only end in murder. The book is nonfiction with all the twists and turns of a thriller. It’s a tale so much stranger than fiction it has to be true.

One of the cool things about the story is learning about Remus’s nemesis Mabel Walker Willebrandt, the Assistant US Attorney who was the highest ranking woman in the US government at the time. In her private life, Willebrandt wrote about the obstacles and challenges she faced in that position. As I read her words, I was struck again by that same, scarily familiar feeling that things in this nation have perhaps not changed as much as we’d like to believe it has.

I asked Abbott three quick questions about booze and her characters.

Do you have a favorite whiskey?

I am still a whiskey novice, but I’d say The Macallan. A British friend advised me that it’s the only drink that doesn’t cause a hangover, and so far he’s proved right.

Have you tried that new Remus bourbon?

No, I can’t buy it anywhere in NYC! But I look forward to trying it when I’m on tour. George Remus Bourbon is actually sponsoring my events in Cincinnati and Louisville.

How long do you think we will need to wait for a Mabel Willebrandt whiskey?

That’s a brilliant idea, and someone should get on that ASAP. Ironically, Remus was a teetotaler who never drank a drop of alcohol, while Willebrandt, the “czarina of Prohibition” (in Remus’s words) enjoyed her drink. But she preferred California clarets, not whiskey.

***

Anyhoo—please check out The Ghosts of Eden Park if you’re looking for a summer read. See Abbott’s website for more cool info on the characters or to read an excerpt of the book. If nothing else, you gotta watch the trailer.

I’ll leave you with one of Remus’s strangest sayings, and the greatest excuse anyone has ever put forth to explain away his bad behavior: “Remus’s brain exploded.” To decide for yourself if a brain explosion actually occurred, you’ll have to read the book.

All I can say is, D’Agnese loved it.


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Hilarious Gift for a Mystery Lover

The Secret of the Missing Fucks

I was out of town for a while and returned home to find these greeting cards in the mailbox—a gift from my agent, who knows I love mysteries.

The Secret of the Missing Fucks

The paper is good stock, the print very nice, and the interiors blank. I’m guessing they were ordered from this shop on etsy. Either way, very funny.

Thanks, Yfat.


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Our Fourth of July Books

It’s Fourth of July, and a great excuse to highlight the three books we’ve written associated with American History. Ready? Grab your red, white and blue-striped cupcake and Budweiser and let’s jump in, shall we?

Now out in paperback!

Now out in paperback!

Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence. This is the grand-daddy of them all. First published back in 2009, the book features short mini-biographies on the 56 men who signed that famous document in August 1776. Oh, you thought it was signed in July 1776? This is why you need the book!

Also out in paperback!

Also out in paperback!

Signing Their Rights Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the U.S. Constitution. The follow-up to the bestseller. We knew we had to write this one as soon as we heard someone remark, “I didn’t know the Constitution had signers!” Well, it did. Thirty-nine of them, in fact, and the story of that hot, torturous summer is at least as good as the story behind the summer of ‘76.

A delightful little hardcover!

A delightful little hardcover!

Stuff Every American Should Know. Here’s a slim, tiny book suitable for gift-giving or stocking-stuffing that touches upon a small assortment of factoids about American history. People love to give this book to kids, but we happen to think grown-ups enjoy it too. Learn about flags, patriotic songs, and Geronimo. Yes, Geronimo.

***

Photo sent in by an alert fan browsing at a B&N in Charlotte, NC.

Photo sent in by an alert fan browsing at a B&N in Charlotte, NC.

One last thing: the editor behind this trio has since left the publisher to go his own way, but I’ll never forget the day we met for lunch and he opined that these books are awesome because, at the very least, “they’re books people have an excuse to talk about once a year, and you can’t say that about many books.”

Over the years, those words have proved prescient. People love talking about the signers this time of year. Here’s just a sampling of this year’s crop of news articles referencing our book:

A lovely story in The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Mass.: A quick-and-dirty interview I did with a reporter.

Cool piece in The Wilmington Star, NC.: Didn’t know they had done a story until our publisher sent the link.

Nice interview I did with Radio America: I was on the road when they called but we managed to speak. The sound file is embedded below…

Another groovy podcast: This one comes with a longer article on the vote for Independence at a separate page.

Great Tampa Bay Times article on a relative of Signer Elbridge Gerry, the father of gerrymandering: This piece first ran in 2014 but they re-published it in light of the recent Supreme Court decision.

Delightful piece in the Omaha World-Herald that recommends our book to help celebrate the holiday.: Just don’t get BBQ sauce on the pages.

So there you go. A great assortment of stories and coverage that brings a smile to our faces and proves our editor right once again!

Happy Fourth!


Icepop image by Nick Torontali via Unsplash.

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Happy Declatution of America Day!

The long Fourth of July Weekend feels like a good time to run this essay, which Denise and I wrote for Newsday back in 2012.

The problem with American history is that Americans keep making more of it. Citizens can't really be expected to know it all, right?

At least, grown-ups can't. 

It seems clear that Americans expect young people to know the fine points of U.S. history and civics, or else no one would get so up in arms when yet another embarrassing study reveals how few American youngsters know, say, the number of stripes on the U.S. flag. And Americans righteously sneer when Miss USA candidates fail to identify the vice president of the United States. 

So, our list is growing: Kids and beauty-pageant contestants should have a good grasp of American history and civics.

And public officials, right? Certainly those who would deign to represent We the People in Congress should know some elementary points regarding American government.

Which is why elected officials, would-be officeholders on both sides of the aisle, and even the media who cover them, who confuse the words of the Declaration of Independence for the U.S. Constitution ought to be ashamed of themselves. (When this happens, we like to say that the person has made a “Declatution” error.)

But Americans tend to go easy on the rest of the populace who aren't children, politicians, bombasts or beauty-pageant contestants. After all, one might argue, in a nation of immigrants, who or what decides what citizens should know about being American?

Well, in no small part, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, does. Each year, the hundreds of thousands of people -- 694,193 in 2011 alone -- who are sworn in as new Americans are required to take a citizenship test. To prepare, they feverishly cram down 100 factoids. Of those 100, applicants will be asked 10 in an oral exam. To pass, citizen-applicants must answer six correctly.

The questions are challenging. We dare say most "natural born Citizens" -- who, according to Article II, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution are eligible for the presidency -- wouldn't be able to answer most of them without a refresher course. The questions include: What's the "rule of law"? Name one of the authors of The Federalist Papers. Name two Cabinet-level positions. (Answers: Everyone must obey the law; James Madison, Alexander Hamilton or John Jay; anything from the secretary of Agriculture to the secretary of Labor or the attorney general.)

The resulting irony of the great American citizenship test is that new Americans are often better educated about certain aspects of American-ness than those of us who came by our citizenship the easy way.

Does that matter? Some people would describe such questions as trivia -- good for board games but not really critical for day-to-day participation in American life. And doesn't lobbing trivia at each other kind of, um, trivialize the greatness of the American experience?

Yes and no.

When we do book signings these days, the most enthusiastic visitors to our table are not adults but kids who gleefully announce that they've read our "grown-up" books on the founders and they're excited to know a thing or two about William Floyd or Button Gwinnett or John Morton or Stephen Hopkins, all of whom are largely forgotten signers of the Declaration of Independence.

The parents of these children stand proudly and awkwardly by as we and their progeny talk about how cool it is that the real birthday of United States is July 2, not July 4. How cool is it that George Washington was "president" of the Constitutional Convention, which wrote the framework for our government, and then went on to become the "real" president? The passion of those kids delights us, just as the parting shots of their parents sadden us: "He/she puts me to shame."

We hear you, mom and dad. Once you were that little kid. You dug citizenship, you dug America, but somewhere along the line, it became not so compelling. You, like so many of us, decided that it wasn't important to know the little stuff, anyway. It was more important to get the gist, the broad strokes. When politicians argue about the Constitution, no one expects you to follow them word for word, letter by letter, article by article, right? Isn't it enough to just "sort of" know what they mean and, by extension, to trust that they do? 

We beg to differ. As the elections in November near, a lot of insufferable people are going to be telling you what it means to be an American. Don't take their word for it. Arm yourself. It always helps to get out, learn what you can, think for yourself and thus be more properly prepared to peg a blowhard when you hear one.

And in a lot of ways that starts with the geeky stuff. Like, why do we have an Electoral College? And what are the salient differences between our founding documents?

Yes, we know: History is complex, and those deckle-edged books in libraries look so long and tedious. And yes, it takes time to grasp the often complex underlying themes of American history, and to parse the multitude of different interpretations -- but it's always OK to start with the fun stuff. As kids and thousands of new Americans would tell you, what appears to be trivia isn't always trivial. Sometimes, it can be a gateway to deeper learning. It pays to take some time to get to know your nation a little better, from the Charters of Freedom to the Purple Mountains Majesty.

So if we may, some suggestions:

Commit to that lifelong learning this Independence Day. Make it fun. When you're slapping burgers on the grill or hoisting a brew, you can be quizzing your brother-in-law on the origins of our bicameral legislature. If you need help finding appropriate materials, let your librarian, local bookseller or your kids guide you. Our great national summer holidays can be a jumping-off point, too: What are the origins of Memorial Day? The Fourth? Labor Day? When do we celebrate Constitution Day? (Yes, people do.)

If nothing else, a commitment to learning about American history will serve you in good stead this election season. 

The next time you hear a politician quote from the hallowed Declatution -- "We the people, who hold these truths to be self-evident, as we form a more perfect union to establish life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness . . . " -- instead of thinking to yourself, "Yeah, I sort of get what you mean," you'll think, "Nice try, buddy -- you sort of won't get my vote until you work harder."


The World’s Most Mysterious Manuscript

I thought I’d revisit this post I did back in 2011, because the video is hilarious and makes me smile. Little did I know when I wrote it that I’d write a book with Gordon Rugg a few years later, entitled Blind Spot, which touched upon some of the issues inherent in his Voynich work.

One of many bizarre pages from the Voynich manuscript.

One of many bizarre pages from the Voynich manuscript.

A few years ago, when I was living in Europe, I wrote an article for Wired magazine about a scientist named Gordon Rugg who put forth a novel explanation for what many people call the world’s most mysterious manuscript. The Voynich Manuscript, discovered in Italy in 1912, is a bizarre tome written in an unusual alphabet, language or code that no one — not even the world’s best cryptographers — has been able to decode.

Rugg thinks the book is not written in a code at all, but is instead a colossal hoax. His peer-reviewed journal article described a possible reason and mechanism for this. The Voynich MS was back in the news recently because of some Carbon-14 tests which dated the vellum, or paper, to the early half of the 15th Century (between 1404-1438).

Journalist/iconoclast/Village Voice founder John Wilcock corresponded recently with Rugg to see what he thinks of the new data, since it directly contradicts one of Rugg’s pet theories that the book may be the work of Elizabethan con man Edward Kelley.

Wilcock’s post, which went up a few days ago, hints that hoax theory is not yet dead. Nat Geo ran a video recently about the mysterious book. This clip is from an earlier TV documentary that was delightfully melodramatic.

By the way, there are nearly 200 more Voynich videos on YouTube, more than you’d ever want to watch. I don’t need to learn more, frankly. It’s clear to me that the book is the work of extraterrestrials.


This post first appeared on my old blog on April 8, 2011. I’m moving it here in an effort to rescue my old content.

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Let's Hear it For Imagination!

The secret ingredient in these desserts? Imagination.

The secret ingredient in these desserts? Imagination.

I have lot of friends in the publishing business. Lots. And I meet a lot of people in that world as well. Years ago, when my children’s book first came out, I was talking to a woman who said she worked for a publisher of textbooks. She told me that her company had a policy of not using the word “imagination” in their textbooks because they feared that books using that word will not be bought in some U.S. school districts.

She explained that the word was too closely associated in some people’s minds with the word magic, which, if you recall the debates about the Harry Potter books back when they were first published, is a literary hot potato for many people.

You could say that I’m fascinated by magic in all its forms—as make-believe performance, as real-life pagan ritual, as literary device. I was a huge magic geek as a kid. I still have the wand and tote bag of tricks that I trot out every time the unsuspecting child of a neighbor has a birthday party. Several of the blogs I follow these days are written by modern-day witches. And one of my long-time pet projects is a series of fantasy novels featuring rich magic systems.

That said, I actually get the objection-to-magic thing, I really do. I don’t like that people feel that way, but I can live with their objection if they can live with mine. But banning your child from ever reading, hearing, or seeing the word IMAGINATION—the Old French origin of the world means “to picture to oneself”—seems crazy to me. I’d argue you need more imagination to ban the word IMAGINATION for all the harm it will do your kid. The most successful adults I know did not grow up in an imagination-free zone.

I wonder if my acquaintance’s employer was the only company to enact such a policy. Since I first heard this anecdote back in 2011, I haven’t been able to confirm what I was told, nor have I ever been able to find a news article from a reputable source confirming this person’s assertion. It’s entirely possible my acquaintance was full of it, but then again, this is not the sort of policy a textbook publisher would voluntarily release to the news media.

Just in case the policy is true, here are couple of copies of the word. Please feel free to copy and paste into your favorite textbook of choice. Give a few to some wonderful kids, and to some boring adults who need it badly while you’re at it.

IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION.

There. Now don’t you feel better?


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Happy Flag Day! Meet the Flag Guy®!

June 14th is Flag Day in the United States, the day Americans celebrate the day in 1777 when Congress adopted the stars and stripes as the nation’s official flag. Educators use to day to teach kids (and adults) about flag history, etiquette, and display.

Because of kind of books we write, my wife and I have met a lot of people over the years who are immersed in some facet of U.S. history. Al Cavalari is the proprietor of The Flag Guys®, a company in upstate New York that makes and sells a vast quantity of flags. Today I’m sharing 2010 interview with him.

Thanks for visiting, Al. Can you tell us how and why you became a vendor of American flags?

Funny you should ask. I bet most people can not name the exact day, time and place they got into their line of work. I can. It was January 25, 1981 on Rt 207 in New Windsor, NY. That is the day that 52 Americans arrived on American soil for the first time after 444 days in Iranian captivity. Little old New Windsor, NY, was pleased and honored to have the bragging rights of being the first town in the US of A to welcome home these fellow citizens who had been taken hostage when our embassy was taken over.

I happened to be home for two weeks on a visit from Germany, where I had lived for four years after college. I worked there as a waiter, construction worker, and a nurse's aid. My father is a lawyer and after the Bicentennial in 1976 he thought it would be fun to be a flag dealer. So he became one for fun and kept a small supply of flags that he sold out of his law office. The hostages were to land at Stewart Air Base due to its proximity to West Point, where they would stay for some R and R. The President lands here also when he visits West Point.

New Windsor, NY, 1981.

New Windsor, NY, 1981.

As you can see from the photo, it was a great day for flag waving. I stood out on the street and sold stick flags. That was my start. After I returned to the US for good a couple years later, I continued to dabble in flag sales as a way to make side money. The more I worked at it, the more business I got. The more business I got, the more time it demanded. You know the drill. I still have some customers from back then.

Which flags are popular for Flag Day these days? Is it is the 50-star flag, or are there other ones that are popular with Americans?

The most popular category is of course 50-star flags of all types. Below that, I bet it is a toss up between military and historic flags with maybe historic flags having the edge. Historic flags are a real niche for The Flag Guys. The Gadsden flag has really taken off the last couple of years due to its popularity among the Tea Party folks. Many people even call it "The Tea Party Flag" because they are unaware of its existence as a Revolutionary War flag from 1775.

It was through my flag business that I became an ardent history buff. Early on, I became interested in The War Between The States from my customers who are reenactors. From there, I got deeper and deeper into all American history to the extent that I am working on a quest to visit the birthplace, home, and grave of every US President and Signer. I can't get enough, especially of our founding period, and intend one day to live in Philadelphia, where I go now quite a bit.

Do some Americans need to be reminded it is Flag Day?

Yes. When I was growing up, this holiday was not on our radar all that much. I have noticed more of an awareness of this day over the last 5 years or so. Locally, a town clerk has made it a cause and the paper editorializes about it. I like the notion that it is a day all about honoring and respecting our flag. The Elks have always been very involved in Flag Day. They do wonderful programs around it.

It’s believed Hopkinson chose six-pointed starts because they figured prominently in his family coat of arms.

It’s believed Hopkinson chose six-pointed starts because they figured prominently in his family coat of arms.

Because of my New Jersey background, I'm biased in favor of the flag designed by Declaration Signer and New Jerseyan Francis Hopkinson. Can you tell us briefly how you came to sell this flag? Is it a popular seller?

The credit goes to Earl Williams, a fellow member of the North American Vexillological Association, an organization made up of flag scholars and enthusiasts. My connection to Earl and the story of my producing The Hopkinson Flag really began with our mutual involvement with NAVA. I tell the story of Earl and the Hopkinson flag here. Back in the early nineties, he contacted us with the suggestion that we produce this flag. Like most people, I had never heard of Francis Hopkinson. Earl had done a great deal of research about him and his involvement with the creation of our flag. Over many months, Earl gradually made me see that the story is compelling and that a version of what could have been Hopkinson's flag deserved to be offered. Early on in my business, I took suggestions for new and interesting flags seriously and still do. Many of the historical flags I offer have come from requests. So I took a chance and produced a batch. It is a popular flag, though I would not say it is a widespread seller. It does have a devoted following, including a Hopkinson descendant.

How can Americans learn more about how to display and care for their flag?

The flag questions we get come in two categories. One is flag etiquette. I really appreciate it when people care enough to want to do right by Old Glory. Every professional flag dealer I know provides that kind of information. I have an extensive flag etiquette page that deals with all kinds of flag questions that folks ask me. The other category I always get questions about is what I call "tech support." How do I install this? Or how do I attach a flag to a pole? That kind of thing. For those issues, I recommend you check out my "how to page."

By the way, just so you know, I’ll be flying my Hopkinson flag today. Thanks for joining us.

Thank you a million for asking me. I've enjoyed it!


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Behind the Art of Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci

Part of the fun of our children’s book is looking for all the Fibonacci objects—bunny rabbits, pinecones, sunflowers, spirals—hidden in the artwork. Leave it to two guys from New Jersey to bring this Medieval master to life! I thought I would share the interview I had with illustrator John O'Brien back in 2010 about his sketches.

Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci, illustration by John O'Brien

John: This is the first spread in the book. Fibonacci sits on a hill looking out over a Tuscan landscape. It's a simple scene, but it's a good example of embedding a spiral into the art before kids actually know that Fibonacci's numbers can form spirals. At the beginning, they probably aren't going to notice it. But later, when they go back through the book, they will!

Joe: You have to look closely, but it's a tiny ram or goat that's gotten loose and two farmers are chasing it across a field. The ram's tracks form a spiral. And of course, the ram has spiral-shaped horns...

Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci, illustrated by John O'Brien

John: Spirals are hidden everywhere in this book. Sometimes they're obvious, sometimes not. If you look at the tree in this spread, you can actually see the light pencil outline of a spiral. And then I arranged the birds according to that spiral.

Joe: In the finished book, you only see the birds, not what's organizing them.

John: Well sure! Sometimes, I only do things to things for myself, to have a little fun with it!

Joe: Okay, let me set this one up. This is the medieval center center of Pisa, where Fibonacci lived as a boy. He's just run away from school, and he runs out into the streets. If you look closely, you can see him in bottom right.

Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci, illustrated by John O'Brien
Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci, illustrated by John O'Brien

John: In any book, sooner or later, you have to pull back and show people the setting, give them a sense of the environment where the characters live. And if you look closely, you'll see that the buildings are arranged in a spiral shape, too.

Joe: I must have looked at this a million times and never noticed that! Okay, later Fibonacci sets sail with his father for Northern Africa. I love that you hid numbers in the water beneath the ship.

Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci, illustrated by John O'Brien
Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci, illustrated by John O'Brien
Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci, illustrated by John O'Brien

John: That was a good way to fit in the Hindu-Arabic numerals that he learns about when he's in Algeria. And you'll see that the architecture is different now. Minarets and domes. And in the marketplace I tried to put things people would have sold there. The city was famous for candles, so one of the vendors is selling candles.

Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci, illustrated by John O'Brien
Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci, illustrated by John O'Brien

Joe: We're going to jump ahead to later in the book when Fibonacci draws a series of squares in the sand. This is the first time we explicitly show how the number pattern forms a spiral.

John: I basically did two scenes, a close-up on the left, and another from higher up when he draws the spiral. Once a kid sees that spiral, they can probably go back through the book and find all of the others hidden in the book. By the way: that's a starfish on the left. It has five arms, which is a Fibonacci number!

Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci, illustrated by John O'Brien
Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci, illustrated by John O'Brien
John O’Brien

John O’Brien

Joe: So now we come to the rabbits. A lot of people have tried to show this progression from one pair to zillions of pairs, but no one has ever drawn it this way.

John: [Laughs.] Yes, I thought it would be fun to put the rabbits inside what is basically a cut-out of a nautilus shell, which is a spiral. On the left is the first month, only 1 pair of rabbits. Then in the second month, 2 pairs. And so on.

Joe: You really only show seven months, though, John.

John: Well, sure! Otherwise I'd have to make the rabbits smaller. After a while, it's just too many rabbits!


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