Andrew and Ben answer kids’ questions

How do the Real Pigeons creators work? Where do their ideas come from? What is their favourite pizza topping?

To celebrate the release of the new book – Real Pigeons Flap Out, Andrew and Ben asked kids to send in their questions. The pigeon guys promised to answer any question kids wanted to ask. Here are the results.

The cover of the book Real Pigeons Flap Out

“Who is your favourite character?” – Fenella

BEN: My favourite characters are Tumbler and Jungle Crow – because they are fun to draw!

An illustration of Jungle Crow holding bread

ANDREW: I don’t have an ultimate favourite. I love Homey because he always has something funny thing to say. I adore Frillback for being strong-headed but also very fancy. And I have a special place in my heart for Rock because he’s so creative. He’s always making disguises and costumes and that’s just a really fun (and theatrical) way to fight crime.

“Are the rumours about making a Real Pigeons movie true?” – Dallas, age 11, Sydney, NSW

ANDREW: Yes, Nickelodeon has acquired the rights to adapt Real Pigeons. It’s very exciting. 

“Out of all the animals in the animal kingdom why did you pick pigeons to be the stars of the book?” – Matthew, age 11, Auckland, New Zealand.

ANDREW: Good question! I liked the idea that the pigeons we see in the street are all working towards a secret objective (ie. keeping the streets safe). Also, pigeons get a bad rap but they’re actually awesome animals. They have incredible eyesight, they’re super intelligent and they’re fast too. Pigeons can actually fly faster than cheetahs can run. Amazing, right!?

“Which pigeon is the most like you?” – Nixon, age 7, Perth, Western Australia

BEN: I think my stomach is most like Homey. It’s always hungry!

“What’s Homey’s favorite flavour of bread (crumb)? Coconut (we’re at book 5 now!)?” – Liam, age 7, Brisbane, Australia

ANDREW: I’m not sure Homey has an ultimate favourite kind of bread. He likes them all. From coconut bread to croutons to whole sourdough loaves. He is an equal-opportunity bread-eater!

Homey Pigeon with love hearts floating around his head

“The names of the pigeons are all from their different breeds, but where do you get the names for the baddies like Struthio?” – Hennie

ANDREW: I usually look to see what the animal’s other names, nicknames or scientific names are. Struthio Ostrich – one of the villains in Real Pigeons Eat Danger – is called Struthio because ostriches are part of a genus called…you guessed it – Struthio!

Book cover of Real Pigeons Eat Danger by Andrew McDonald and Ben Wood

Jungle Crow is also a real kind of crow. And Beardy Vultures are real kinds of vultures too (who really do eat bones!)

“Will there be any new characters?” – James, Melbourne, Australia

BEN: Yes! There are new characters in every Real Pigeons book! There are new cat, dog and bird characters in Real Pigeons Flap Out!

“I am wondering how did you get the idea of Real Pigeons?” – Ryan, age 7, Sydney, NSW

“Where or how did you get the cool idea to write stories about a group of pigeons?” – Jacoby, age 7, Melbourne, Victoria

“What gave you the idea?” – Fenella

“What inspired you to write Real Pigeons?” – Orson, age 8, Sydney, NSW

ANDREW: The idea for Real Pigeons initially came about when I started noticing that pigeons are EVERYWHERE. They’re found in all the same places that humans are found – cities, parks, streets, schools, etc. I became fascinated by these birds that many of us see daily – yet usually ignore. And I started thinking that this would make pigeons the perfect crime-fighters, because no one would notice if they were spying on baddies, investigating mysteries and keeping everyone safe from danger.

BEN: When I have new ideas for Real Pigeons I write or draw them down in my notebook. I also get ideas from watching REAL LIFE pigeons in the street. Pigeons are so cool and funny to watch.

“We live near a big bakery in Warburton and there are always pigeons walking around eating crumbs but why is it that pigeons like eating bread anyhow?” – Luc, age 8, Warburton, Victoria

BEN: Because bread is DELICIOUS! Yum yum yum.

“Will Homey’s long-lost family appear in any books in the future?” – Ernie, age 6, Kialla, Victoria

ANDREW: We don’t want to give away too many secrets about future books. But … quite possibly. It was so fun meeting Homer, Hominy and Hombellina in Real Pigeons Nest Hard. It would be really fun to visit those bread-baking pigeons again. We just need the right story to do so.

“Is Grandpouter the evil bird that I saw at the end of book 10 (Real Pigeons Stay Coo)?” – Charlie, age 6 3/4, Singapore

“Who is the twin Grandpouter on the last page of Stay Coo?” – Angus, age 7, Sydney, NSW

“Does Grandpouter go evil?” – Biko, age 6, New York City, USA

“Who is this mysterious Grandpouter at the end of the last book? Is it an imposter?” – Chandler, age 9, Blue Bell, USA

ANDREW: Ah yes, there is a cliffhanger at the end of book ten (Real Pigeons Stay Coo) which concerns Grandpouter. We don’t want to spoil anyone who hasn’t read that far into the series, but we can say with confidence that that pigeon is NOT an imposter. But he looks like Grandpouter for a very good reason. All is explained in book 11 – Real Pigeons Flap Out.

“Is there a pig/pigeon that can transform into 10 aliens like in Ben 10? I’d also like to know when did Ben start drawing pigs/pigeons? Andrew what is your favourite pizza topping?” – Fernando, Brisbane, Queensland 

BEN: We don’t have a pigeon that can transform into 10 pigeons yet…but what a great idea! Before working on Real Pigeons with Andrew I hadn’t really drawn pigeons before. And now I LOVE drawing them!

ANDREW: My favourite pizza topping is … anchovies. SALTY PIZZA, YUM YUM!

“If you could be any one of the Real Pigeons, who would you be and why?” – Orson, age 8, Sydney, Australia

ANDREW: I would like to be Frillback, I think. Having super strength would give you tremendous confidence. You’d be able to sneak into any cinema, library or donut shop that you wanted to – knowing that if you got into trouble you’d be able to escape by just flying through a wall or throwing donuts at a security guard. Also, her feathery frills are very fancy and I’d totally be preening all the time!

BEN: I would be Tumbler! I would love to be able to shape-shift like she can.

“I wanted to ask if you watch pigeons in the park and then make up stories about what they may be doing. Like if they are just sitting on a tree, are they in reality watching for crime?” – Siegfried, age 7, Edinburgh, UK

ANDREW: Watching pigeons in the park – and elsewhere – is just part of the job when you’re writing about pigeons. I often follow pigeons around, taking videos of them on my phone. It probably looks strange but it’s important to do your research. The story about Kid X in Real Pigeons Nest Hard came about after I observed how little kids always chase after pigeons. And those pigeons in a tree probably are watching for crime. But they’ll never tell!

“If humans can’t understand the pigeons, how can all other animals understand them?” – Hennie

ANDREW: The rules in Real Pigeons are that animals (including birds) can all talk to each other and be understood. They can also understand what humans say. But humans can’t understand any animals. 

“Where do you get your ideas from??” – Lola, age 10, Sydney, Australia

ANDREW: I usually try to grow my ideas – by observing the world around me and asking ‘What if?’ What if all the mailboxes came to life? What if cats liked riding bicycles? What if pigeons could fight crime?

“Why is Grandpouter not on every cover of the Real Pigeons books?” – Anna, Sydney, NSW

BEN: It would be SO COO to have the five pigeons on every cover, but sadly sometimes there isn’t enough room. Grandpouter tells me that he’s happy to let the other pigeons be on more book covers than he is. ;-D

“When will the other books come here to New York City?” – Biko, age 6, New York City, USA

ANDREW: The first five Real Pigeons books have been published by Random House Children’s Publishing in the US and Canada. Feel free to let Random House know that you’re keenly waiting for more!

“My question is about Grandpouter Pigeon. Why is one iris big and the other is small?” – Murtaza, age 12, Truganina, Victoria

BEN: In a flashback scene in Real Pigeons Eat Danger Grandpouter’s old friend Struthio makes him a bit stressed when he is being naughty. This is when Grandpouter’s iris gets bigger.

“Red Twig from Hello Twigs book looks a lot like Trent from Real Pigeons. Is there a reason for that?” – Conor, age 10, Brisbane, Queensland

An illustration of the characters from Hello Twigs, with a large, red Hello Twigs logo

BEN: Because we love Trent! And even though Hello Twigs and Real Pigeons aren’t in the same universe, I liked the idea of having a new character that looked similar to Trent. #trentforever

“Why did you decide to become an author?” – Owen, age 9, Cleveland, USA

ANDREW: I enjoyed writing stories from a very young age. At school I was constantly writing stories on paper, adding on illustrations, designing front and back covers, then stapling it all together to make a book. But it wasn’t until I was an adult that I really tried to write stories with the aim of becoming an author. And I did that because I’d always had so much fun inventing stories, creating characters, planning plot-twists, etc. It was fun when I was at school and it’s fun now!

“What is your favourite book you’ve published?” – Henry, age 11, Belgrave, Victoria

ANDREW: The very first book in the series, Real Pigeons Fight Crime, holds a special place in my heart because it kicked everything off. But I love some of the whacky adventures we’ve had in later books too – like when the pigeons had to infiltrate a CAT MUSEUM in Real Pigeons Peck Punches and when we set a whole story in the upper reaches of the atmosphere in Real Pigeons Spy High.

Real Pigeons Fight Crime book cover

“I’ve always been curious; why does Frillback need sausages for her super strength?” – Mashal, age 8, Naarm/Melbourne, Victoria

ANDREW: That is a very perceptive question, Mashal. We have never fully explained it. Sadly, I can’t go into details, because I am writing about THIS VERY TOPIC right now, as part of Real Pigeons book 12. So stay tuned!

“Are you making another series of new books? Not the Real Pigeons or Hello Twigs. I really love your book series” – Rory, age 8, Brisbane, Queensland

ANDREW: We might be. Ben and I are having a lot of fun collaborating on books right now!

“Can you have more than three sections per book?” – Ned, age 8, Geelong, Victoria

BEN: Yes! In Real Pigeons Flap Out we created a brand new section called Part 2.5! It is a story all about Trent!

“How many Real Pigeons books are you going to write?” – Roberta, age 5, Cairns, Queensland

ANDREW: We’ve got a few more up our sleeves yet. There are some very important stories we still need to tell. 

“Why do you want us to ask questions?” – Roberta, age 5, Cairns, Queensland

ANDREW: Because we love talking to our readers. And kids always ask such good questions!

“Can you tell us about the new and interesting characters in Real Pigeons Flap Out?” – Sammy, age 8, Cairns, Queensland

ANDREW: I can tell you that there is a dove in it. But she is not a sweet, symbol-of-peace-type dove. Because her name is…THE DOVESTROYER!

“Will you ever write a story about yourselves? And what would you write about?” – Sammy, age 8, Cairns, Queensland

BEN: If I was going to write a story about myself I would be eating at a buffet. There would be cake and donuts and pineapple and blueberries and pizza and tacos and…

“How do you get a book that everyone included me love and not make a bad book?” – Alex

ANDREW: Haha, good question, Alex. I don’t actually know. We just try to make the best books we can. Books that we think are funny and intriguing and entertaining. We’re always grateful to hear when people like the books we make. So thank you!

Why are all the pigeons in black and white? Will you bring out a book with colours?” – Crixus, age 10, Mackay, Queensland

ANDREW: A lot of kids’ books published in Australia are printed in black and white. But colour Real Pigeons books would be amazing. Maybe one day!

“Does Trent have a family?” – Jacob, age 10, Melbourne, Victoria

BEN: He does! It is Rock and the Real Pigeons! 

“If Grandpouter Pigeon could have a super power what would it be?” – Leo, age 12, Hallett Cove, South Australia

BEN: This is a very important question that must be answered! It may or may not be revealed in Real Pigeons Flap Out! (Sshh, no spoilers!)

“I would like to know why Rock’s twig Trent isn’t in the Hello Twigs books? I’m sure he would be good friends with the gang. Is there any plan for him to be included in the future?” – Jack, age 7.5, Mordialloc, Victoria

ANDREW: I agree, they’d be good friends. However, Real Pigeons and Hello Twigs are separate universes. The twigs in Real Pigeons are static objects, but in Hello Twigs they’re ALIVE! So it’s unlikely the characters from each will ever meet.

“How long does it take to write and illustrate one Real Pigeons book?” – Winston, age 9, Brisbane, Queensland

“How long does it take to make one book?” – Craig, age 9, Auckland, New Zealand

“How long does it take to write the books?” – Ned, age 8, Geelong, Victoria

“How long does it take for you to complete a book? Like how long it takes to finish writing and how long it takes to finish drawing?” – Jessie, age 13, North Parramatta, Australia

ANDREW: I spend five or six months writing, rewriting and editing each book, before Ben starts illustrating. But I also spend a lot of time before that just thinking and making notes about ideas and other cool things that could happen in future books. 

BEN: I also spend five or six months drawing each book! Andrew and I talk to each other all the time while creating one book. It is fun to work together!

Three comic panels featuring illustration of the Real Pigeons thinking.

Three comic panels featuring illustration of the Real Pigeons thinking.

Thanks to everyone who sent in questions. We LOVE your enthusiasm and your curiosity.

Coo-gratulations to Murtaza from Truganina, Leo from Hallett Cove, and Lola and Orson from Sydney. who have won the signed copies of the new Real Pigeons book.

Books in the Real Pigeons series

Real Pigeons Fight Crime book cover
Real Pigeons Nest Hard book cover
Cover of the book Real Pigeons Peck Punches
Cover of book Real Pigeons Flex Feathers
Cover of the book Real Pigeons Duck Trouble
The cover of Real Pigeons Flap Out by Andrew McDonald and Ben Wood
Book cover of Real Pigeons Eat Danger by Andrew McDonald and Ben Wood
Cover of book Real Pigeons Get Bready
Real Pigeons Spy High
Cover of the book Real Pigeons Stay Coo

Books in the Real Pigeons series

Real Pigeons Fight Crime book cover
Book cover of Real Pigeons Eat Danger by Andrew McDonald and Ben Wood
Real Pigeons Nest Hard book cover
Cover of the book Real Pigeons Peck Punches
Cover of book Real Pigeons Get Bready
Cover of book Real Pigeons Flex Feathers
Real Pigeons Spy High
Cover of the book Real Pigeons Duck Trouble
Cover of the book Real Pigeons Stay Coo
The cover of Real Pigeons Flap Out by Andrew McDonald and Ben Wood


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