Middle-school entrepreneur Dewey Fairchild’s problem-
solving skills are legendary.
But when he expands his business to include sibling
problems, he finds himself seeing his oddest clients to
date and hatching the wildest of schemes to help siblings
Praise for the book
The third entry in an award-winning STEM+ series that
Kirkus Reviews says “will have readers cheering [Dewey] on, rolling in the aisles, and wishing they could line up for
consultations” (starred review).
About the author
Lorri Horn is a Nationally Board Certified
educator who has taught public school for over
14 years. Her work has appeared in The Los
Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, Phi Delta
Kappan, The College Board, and Mayim’s
Vegan Table. Lorri lives in California with her
husband, son, and their dog, Wolfie.
Q: Tell us a little about your background as an educator and how that played into writing Dewey Fairchild: Sibling Problem Solver and other books of the series.
I named the protagonist of the series, Dewey, after John Dewey, an educational reformer whose ideas have always inspired me as an educator. Dewey Fairchild is a problem solver. He learns by doing, helps adults to make ideas relevant to kids’ lives, and along with his pack of pals creates a community of self-directed learners who work to make their world more, as John Dewey says, “worthy, lovely, and harmonious,” even if it’s just about kid stuff.
Q: For those who are unfamiliar, can you explain the meaning of Design Thinking and how your book relates?
Design Thinking may sound like the newest passing trend in education, but it’s not a new concept. It’s been around since the 1960s in the academic fields of engineering, and has been more recently adapted today for the field of education thanks to some great folks at Stanford and others. It relies on empathy and experimentation to solve complex problems and challenges. So, I’d say Dewey is a product of that kind of thinking. I didn’t intentionally set out to make Dewey an example of Design Thinking. The problems he solves, like Georgina’s dad picking her nose in public, are hardly akin to solving fresh water needs in a nearby community! I think it’s, shall we say, subtle that way at times. It’s also fair to say that Dewey’s approach aligns with that mindset which believes that when children feel empathy for someone’s situation and come up with some sort of unique solution based on their own creativity, learning occurs best.
Q: Can you speak to the diversity in the types of families represented in your books? What choices did you make here and why do you believe it’s important?
I grew up on a street that forked off into two cul-de-sacs. It was a great street to run around and play because we didn’t have to worry about traffic as we skated and rode our bikes. That neighborhood growing up had a rich and diverse number of families, many of whom were married to people from other cultures and backgrounds. We had a German/Hungarian family, an Indian/German, British/French Canadian, African American, Caucasian, Jewish, Mormon, and Christian. As children we ate at one another’s homes and experienced these different cultures’ food, clothing, customs. As a neighborhood we celebrated holidays together. The diversity in my books reflects both the life I led, and lead. My books are that way because our world is that way. I don’t know any other way to be.
Q: How do you find a balance between teaching and entertaining within your writing?
I love this question. I tried to have Dewey keep me as honest as possible. As soon his voice or his friends start to sound didactic or preachy, I know it’s time to revise. If the best learning comes out of doing and experiencing, then my job is to let kids just dig into the books and have a good time. Despite some of the implementation issues, the California Common Core State Standards actually have what I consider to be a beautiful vision for our children: “The standards establish what it means to be a literate person in the twenty-first century. . .They use research and technology to sift through the staggering amount of information available and engage in collaborative conversations, sharing and reforming viewpoints through a variety of written and speaking applications.” I hope what I’ve done in this series is given kids a model of what that looks like in its purest form when we don’t feel the pressures of having to get children there any faster than their little legs can carry them or a teacher’s day allows.
Q: Can we expect to see more from Dewey Fairchild in the future?
I think so! The truth is, in my mind I ended the series at the end of Book Three. But characters are a lot like kids when you tuck them in for the night—they have a way of popping their head around the corner just as you sit down for a quiet moment with some brownies and a glass of wine. I caught Dewey sneaking around not that long ago and before I could tell him I had some other projects on my mind, he pulled up a seat and asked how I planned to get him out of that mess he was in. So, I’d say it’s very possible!