Awesome custom children’s book: Following Featherbottom

Cover of the book Following Featherbottom.

Following Featherbottom written by Phil Haussler, illustrated by Brad Sneed and web-ified by Ken Wiebke is a tribute to the child for whom it’s customized, a gift given unique to the child. There are plenty of customized books on the market, but this is the first one to catch my eye. It’s different for a lot of reasons.

The story follows Felix Featherbottom, a stork tasked with thinking up the perfect name for a child who just happens to have your own child’s name, gender and birth date. The stork flies to countries around the world sequentially collecting letters that appear in your child’s name.

Each letter is pulled from a city, country or continent’s name. A is for Argentina, Antarctica, Amsterdam or Athens. B is for Bordeaux, France or Brooklyn, New York. And so on.

When you customize the book through its website, you choose which locations you want to use for each letter. Most letters of the alphabet contain two choices, but  common letters have as many as four choices. You’re good to go as long as your kid doesn’t have too many odd repeating letters in his name.

Every step of the way you can see large, customized versions of your pages (your mouse pointer doesn’t always indicate it, but yes, the images are clickable).

Image of the stork driving a jeep in the middle of an elephant stampede. An e in Ethiopia will make the earth shake, 'cause elephant footsteps feel like an earthquake.

Read a preset story for a child named Cade Michael, or try it out by filling in the first page of the customization form.

A banner appears on the bottom of each story page showing the progression as your child’s name gets completed (e.g., the full name isn’t visible until the end of the story). And that ending includes a world map showing the locations where each letter was obtained.

Several things make Featherbottom different:

1. Fantastic illustrations. It’s the first thing you notice.

2. Rhyming that works. Most non-Dr. Seuss rhyming stories seem forced.

3. A storyline where the appearance of your child’s name is natural, not Mad Libs.

4. A website that shows you the entire book, right down to letting you swap out pages. I mentioned the website builder along with the author and illustrator above because he’s done an excellent job of showing you exactly what you’re buying.

Image of the stork playing checkers in a market in Cairo surrounded by camels. Next we need a C so Cairo's where we'll stop and listen as the camels go clippity-clop-clop.

You can customize your child’s first and last name, gender, birth date and color of the book’s hardcover. Include the middle name for $5 more (the fee is because the extra name adds a page for every letter). You can also include a stanza for free mentioning your child’s nickname if he has one. And of course, the gift giver can have a custom inscription printed on the cover page.

I receive a lot of pitches for see-your-kid-in-the-story customized books. They usually feature cheesy photo cut-outs of your child’s head printed in poorly illustrated pages with a horrifically inane storyline.

So when Thinga-reader Phil e-mailed me last night with a meek mention of his little side project, I was prepared to roll my eyes. However… at every step of exploring this book it’s clear everyone involved hit the ball out of the park. Awesome.

And by side project, I mean this dad has a day job and here I am exchanging e-mails with him at 11 p.m. on the west coast while he’s 2 hours ahead of me. The book seems to be something of a labor of love, and quite clearly meticulously planned.

I see grandparents buying the book for their grandchildren. I see parents buying the book up through primary school. I see friends buying the book for baby showers. Oh yes, you can specify the baby’s birth date as “don’t know” and the story is adjusted to make sense.

My 5-year-old would enjoy this story because there’s substance to it and I like it because of its focus on a global perspective.

When you look at the enlarged images on the website, you’ll notice fine print that lists all of the words that go with the page’s letter. For example, N for North Pole has nachos, a net, night, the North Pole sign, northern lights and a narwhal.

Image of the book page depicting the stork sitting on a lawn chair at the North Pole with a narwhal. For an N at the North Pole, we'll stay up all night and sit back to watch nature's northern lights.

Wait, a narwhal? The locations and subjects selected for the story are delightfully not typical. Including the roughest, toughest unicorn of the sea in a children’s story has awesomeness written all over it, even if he has a friendly smile.


9 Responses to “Awesome custom children’s book: Following Featherbottom”

  1. My Boaz's Ruth says:


    Guess I better not put his middle name in. Just in first and last, I have already used all 4 E locations!

    December 1st, 2009 at 7:30 am

  2. Christina says:

    Wow, how cool! I just made one for my 2yo son and I know he’s going to love it. Thank you for the recommendation!

    December 1st, 2009 at 11:24 am

  3. cindy says:

    I just love this, the illistrations brings you into the story, you just want to pull up a chair and look and read, Children will love this

    December 1st, 2009 at 11:32 am

  4. Danielle says:

    I love this! I always see these and they’re so cheesy and unimaginative. This one is fabulous. And my son, who was blessed with a birthday that comes just a week after Chistmas? I think it will be a hit as a birthday gift!
    Great recommendation. Thanks!

    December 1st, 2009 at 1:50 pm

  5. Seth says:

    I already received my two books for our kids. They LOVE reading Featherbottom at bedtime, seeing their own names come to life, reading their birthdays in print, and especially trying to find where Pierre du Pond the froggy is hiding!

    This will be our choice for holiday gifts for all our friends’ kids and family members, too.

    Awesome recommendation for parents and grandparents!!

    December 1st, 2009 at 3:11 pm

  6. Shannon says:

    Totally awesome. I plan on ordering one for my daughter for Christmas, even though at just 14 months she probably won’t get it for a little while longer.

    I was wondering what they would come up with for the X in her last name…thank goodness for Xanadu Island!

    December 2nd, 2009 at 9:55 am

  7. Tanya says:

    I love this book. My daughter has a “unique” name so she doesn’t have many things with her name on them.

    I just ordered her one for her birthday.

    December 2nd, 2009 at 4:16 pm

  8. anjii says:

    This is amazing! I also have been unable to find a personalized book that I wouldn’t cringe to read with them… thanks for the find :)

    December 3rd, 2009 at 10:33 am

  9. Maria says:

    Thanks so much for the recommendation. Just ordered one for my daughter and thinking about them as Christmas gifts for family. I was just looking at personalized books and these are leaps and bounds above everything out there. What a CUTE story. Thanks again.

    December 5th, 2009 at 10:20 pm

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