Allison's Book Bag

Posts Tagged ‘Lori Zoss

Poor Fred! His bed is gone and no one seems to know where it is. In her first picture book, A Bed for Fred, Lori Zoss weaves an adorable story of a basset hound determined to find his bed. Despite the clumsiness of some of the rhymes and the overabundance of text, A Bed for Fred is a sweet and endearing story.

One of my favorite picture books from childhood is Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman. In it, a baby bird hatches from its egg, only to find itself alone. Similarly, in A Bed for Fred, our young hero returns from a morning of eating breakfast and playing with his bear to find his bed gone. Even worse, his dad is gone. In both tales, the main characters set out an adventurous journey to find that which is lost. Along the way, they each encounter others who unable to help. In Are You My Mother? no one whom the young bird meets is able to claim the role of being its mother. Similarly, in A Bed for Fred, none of the mouse, frog, cricket, or owl have any idea where his bed or even his dad have gone. In this, her first picture book, Zoss has made the smart decision of using a classic structure which, despite its frequent use, rarely fails to engage and satisfy. We all root for the heroes to return home, feel growing concern at how far they must wander, as well as feel strong comfort when they find what they have long sought. After all, it’s our hope that we too can say that about our own journeys.

You might have guessed by now that I feel an affection for A Bed for Fred. Yet it isn’t without flaws, both in plot and format. With regards to plot, the time which it takes for Fred to play, eat, and return to his room to change feels awfully quick. I found myself rereading the first few pages to understand how Fred’s bed AND his dad could have so quickly disappeared. This little nitpicking aside, the rest of the plot pretty much works. I especially liked the cricket who thinks she might have found Fred’s bed and the owl who faces the tough task of encouraging Fred to return home without his bed, because by this point it’s getting dark and Fred has been out far too late. Also, the ending is perfect.

As for format, a comparison to the design of Are You My Mother? will undoubtedly make the problem clear. In Are You My Mother?, the text is at least twice the size of A Bed for Fred and so has a friendlier feel. There is also a lot of less text per page–about ten to twenty words compared to forty or fifty, which makes Are You My Mother? an easier read than A Bed for Fred. There’s also a third difference, in that the first is written as a straightforward narrative, whereas A Bed for Fred relies on rhymes. I don’t know that I have a preference, except that rhyme is incredibly difficult to sustain without becoming awkward or sounding forced. A few times as I read her story aloud, I found myself stumbling over Zoss’s lines. For the most part, though, I felt impressed with how natural her story felt.


A Bed for Fred has parallels of course to the real world. All young children will make the huge step from cribs to toddler beds and from toddler beds to “big boy” or “big girl” beds. Fred’s story is bound to encourage them that such a transition is not only okay but actually a fun part of growing up.

LoriZossWhen Lori Zoss and her husband would walk their rescue Basset Hound named Fred, children would approach him. As he encountered children more often, Zoss started thinking about him as the main character of a children’s book. And so came about A Bed for Fred which I’ll review tomorrow. Save the date: May 14!

Zoss lives in Ohio with her husband David, Labrador Retriever Ginger, and Basset Hound Fred. When not writing, Zoss is the corporate support director for a public television and radio organization in Ohio. She also lends her talents during radio and television fundraising, serving as on-air hosts during pledge drives.

Zoss has been a featured speaker to various public media and educational conferences. She also spends time as an Adjunct Professor of Communications and Public Relations at Baldwin Wallace University. A Bed for Fred is her first book.

ALLISON: Describe your most memorable bedtime moment.

LORI: Christmas Eve night as a child was absolutely the best bedtime moment. Anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus and wondering what he would bring! I would leave cookies and milk, as well as a note making sure Santa gave some cookies to the reindeer! That anticipation while trying to fall asleep…. it was wonderful!

ALLISON: What do you like best about growing up in Ohio?

LORI: As a child I loved the seasons…. I loved playing in the snow and sled riding. I loved jumping in piles of leaves in the fall and swimming in my backyard swimming pool in the summer. In the spring, I enjoyed school recess and taking in the air as a break in the day. Also, I lived just under an hour from Cedar Point Amusement Park which is a summer tradition I still visit this day! As I got older, I appreciated the people of Ohio. Community minded, easy-going, and very down to earth.

ALLISON: If you were to look back and give advice to your childhood self, what would you say?

LORI: Enjoy this time. It goes by fast. Adults would tell me that and I just didn’t believe them until I started to experience it. Also, I remember spending a lot of time as a kid imagining what kind of adult I would be or what I would be doing professionally, even at a young age. I would tell myself to just enjoy being a kid.

ALLISON: What kind of student were you?

LORI: Until I attended college, I was an average student, however excelled in Reading, Phonics, Writing, and English. However, once I entered higher education I maintained an A average and graduated cum laude. In terms of behavior, I did best on projects and exams that allowed me to write or express a thought as opposed to standardized testing. I also was one of the few students who enjoyed presentations and public speaking.

ALLISON: Describe a typical day as a director for public television and radio.

LORI: I oversee a team of 7 people who reach out to various organizations and corporations to secure underwriting dollars for our 3 stations. I provide guidance, training, mentorship, and account management direction with my staff. When not working with my team, I’m on the air during pledge drives asking the community to individually support public broadcasting. I also facilitate training webinars with fellow corporate support directors nationwide. Twice a year I am asked to speak at industry conferences in other cities. There really is not a typical structure to my day as it adapts to client and station needs.

ALLISON: How do you balance being a director, a speaker, and a writer?

LORI: Most of my book and speaking engagements occur in the evening or weekends so do not conflict with my work at Ideastream. It is a lot of work but very much worth it. When your are passionate about something you just make it happen.

ALLISON: Why did you decide to write a children’s book?

LORI: A little over 2 years ago. My husband and I would walk our Basset Hound Fred and children would approach him. I think kids like Fred because he’s low to the ground and at their eye level, thus not intimidating as other dogs may be. As he encountered children more often I started thinking about him as the main character of a children’s book. About a week later the title came into my head A Bed for Fred and I wrote the story from there.

ALLISON: How do your dogs Ginger and Fred feel about your having written a dog book? Has there been any rivalry between them over it?

LORI: I do think Fred knows there is something special about him. I take him to many of my events and he gets very excited! He has a special prance about him when he walks in…. very confident and engaging. He loves the attention! Ginger, my Labrador, is a senior dog and very laid back. She’s a sweetheart but prefers a more mellow time at home or with family. Ginger has no problem with Fred being in the lime light. 🙂

ALLISON: What’s next?

LORI: I have several events coming up in 2014 for A Bed for Fred and will continue promoting the book into 2015. There will be another Fred book but not until late 2015 early 2016.

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