Eric Fehr believes that you should treat others how you would want to be treated – away from the ice, that is.
Fehr loves to frustrate other NHL teams’ top lines as the new checking center for the Washington Capitals. But in his free time, the Canadian teamed up with author Pamela Duncan Edwards to write a children’s book that combats bullying.
In The Bulliest Dozer, Bo Dozer becomes the “mean machine” at Ms. Crane’s Academy for Little Machines when he is unable to ice skate for a holiday concert on ice. He quickly learns, though, that bullying is something he shouldn’t do. Bo and his machine friends – like Lofty Forklift and WhippyWeedwacker – learn how bullying makes others feel and the importance of friendship.
Fehr recently spoke to SI Kids about the writing process, his favorite parts of being an author, and how his own tight-knit team plans to handle the coming NHL playoffs.
Did you ever think you would be a pro hockey player and an author when you were growing up?
I really wanted to be a pro hockey player growing up, but I never expected to be an author. Obviously now that both have happened it’s pretty cool.
How did you come up with the idea for The Bulliest Dozer?
I’ve wanted to write a children’s book for a while. I had no idea what it was going to be about or what kind of storylines it would have. But one day I was at home [and] I just thought of the title the Bulliest Dozer. It kind of came to me. I thought that would be a cool title of a book, and from there I just started working on different characters that could be involved, different storylines and plots, and the book took shape.
Was bullying an issue that you dealt with when you were younger? Or has someone close to you suffered because of it?
It hasn’t been an issue for myself, but growing up I feel like no one really talked about bullying. It’s grown and become a bigger problem and now it’s a big issue. So I thought this would be a really good way for kids to be more educated on the subject of bullying in a fun way.
What was the writing process like?
It was a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be. I thought of some characters and the storyline, and I got Pamela Duncan Edwards, an author from the DC area, to help me put it altogether. She’s the co-author. She helped me make the story flow a little bit better. She had some great ideas and we made a great end product.
What was your favorite part of the process?
Little things. I liked putting my own touch on the characters because every character is a little bit unique. My favorite is Lofty the Forklift because in the illustrations he wears an upside down cardboard box on his head and carries his lunch tray around on his forks. He uses both right-handed and left-handed for hockey – he has two sticks on the ice – which is kind of funny because that wouldn’t be allowed. He’s very into the book in the illustrations even though there isn’t a lot written about him. Getting to help bring the characters to life was a lot of fun.
Have you gotten feedback from your teammates about the book?
A lot of guys on the team have given me good feedback. Braden Holtby, our goalie, said his son Ben makes him read it to him all the time. He picks it out all on his own. When I hear stuff like that, it feels great to know that the book is going around, not just on our team, but in other households, and hopefully it is some good bonding time with the kids and just a good storyline.
There’s a mix of good young players and veterans on the Capitals this year. How’s the team chemistry?
We all get along really well; it’s probably the tightest-knit group we’ve had. We spend a lot of time together and we all really enjoy it. We have a lot of fun.
With the playoffs are right around the corner, what does the team need to do to have success in the postseason?
I think we need to continue playing the system that the coach has given us. Sometimes we get away from it a little bit and play our old style, not quite as intense as we need to or not quite as disciplined as we need to be. When we play the way we are supposed to and play disciplined, we win games.
Visit the Washington Capitals website to learn more about The Bulliest Dozer and to order a copy of the book!
Photos: Washington Capitals (Fehr reading, cover)