The Stories…and the stories behind the stories

Nerfnerd is the hero’s journey for a gray mouse sock puppet. Nerfnerd thinks he has a terrible life but when he’s tossed in the clothes hamper he discovers, with help from his newfound friends, that his life is truly rich and meaningful. (Headline Kids, 2011)

The story behind the story…When I was a child I was gifted a mouse puppet by a lady in our church. I named the puppet Nerfnerd because I liked the way the syllables felt flowing out of my mouth when I said the name.
In 2008 I had an idea for a story about my childhood toy and the tale took shape. I was feeling a little sorry for myself at the time and Nerfnerd was a great way to remind me of all the things in my life I had to be grateful for, including my beautiful daughter, Millena.

Lost in La La Land is the account of two bumbling sailors, Professor Parringblue and Sir Tibbs McFiggley, who start out on an adventure looking for mermaids and sea sprites. Along the way they get lost and discover La La Land, a zany island filled with cartwheeling bread people and chocolate animals.
The two sailors realize this is the place for them. (Uncle Dave’s Books, 2014)

The story behind the story…I’ve always enjoyed rhyming and s t r e t c h i n g  my imagination as far as I possibly can. This story came to me one night at two o’clock in the morning. It’s a fun rhyme that reminded me that there doesn’t always have to be a moral to a story. Sometimes a story is written out of sheer joy— just for the fun of it.

Billy Beakhorn and the Booger Man is a tale about a boy who wipes his shirt on his nose and brings the Booger Man to life. The devious Booger Man makes the whole town sick. Can Billy stand up to the mess he’s created and put the Booger Man back in his place?
This is a boogers-gone-bad story about kindness and setting wrongs right. (Uncle Dave’s Books, 2016)
Billy cover 1The story behind the story…When I was small my Grandmother, Hazel Shroyer, would say, “Watch out for the booger man!” This was even more terrifying to me than the “boogie man”, because it wasn’t just a scary man. It was a scary man covered in snot.
One day I was telling my publisher, Dave Howard, about this and Billy Beakhorn and The Booger Man was born. The name comes from three words for nose (bill, beak and horn) and for my Uncle Bill. I wanted the book to have a lesson about kindness and doing what’s right even when it’s not easy, because those are lessons my grandmother taught me early on.

A One of a Kind Hot Air Balloon Adventure is a story about two children left alone by their uncle on a hot air balloon ride. In no time they are in trouble, but an amusing cast of characters come to the rescue including a little girl and her puppy, 27 monkeys, and even the man in the moon. (Uncle Dave’s Books, 2017)
One of a Kind banner

The story behind the story…One of my favorite books when I was a kid was about two people who make a sandwich. They keep adding more and more pickles, ham and cheese until the sandwich is so H U G E  that they can’t eat it. A One of a Kind Hot Air Balloon Adventure reminds me of that book.
The two children get caught on an unexpected hot air balloon ride and as more and more people and animals try to help, the story grows more and more ridiculous. I love this book because everyone wants to help.

Too Many Poodles is a fun, rhyming book about a girl trying her best to get a good night’s sleep despite all the poodles in her bed. Try as she may, the poodles keep coming. Too Many Poodles is a story about making sacrifices for the ones we love. (Melanie Vogel, 2019)
TooManyCvr7-12-19_13The story behind the story…This is truly a “write what you know” kind of book. Each night when we lie down to sleep my husband, Roger, and I have to make room for our three poodles. They are miniature poodles, but they really take up the s p a c e  of three standard poodles (maybe it just seems like that to us).
One night I yelled, “Get off the bed and on the floor. No more poodles. No! No more!” Once you’ve said something like that…well, you have to write a book about it.



Published by

Melanie J. Vogel

I love writing books for kids with BIG imaginations. An expert in the art of daydreaming and counting clouds, I live in the small town of Cumberland, Maryland. I am the momma to one grown daughter. Happily married, I'm a poodle lover, master flower gardener and a casual unicorn spotter. Join me on Facebook at

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