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  • Writer's picturePaige Hulsey

The Cardinal’s Story

Many readers have noticed the cardinal on nearly every page of “A Bad Day Fishing.” If you look closely, the bird goes on its own journey throughout the story. Illustrator Daniel Wlodarski found the most beautiful ending to the cardinal’s story within Jack and Bud’s adventure.

While the beautiful bird is a fun side story for kids to follow while they are reading, it does carry a deeper meaning.

Some have asked what the cardinal represents and I’m ready to share that answer with you now.

My grandma had recently passed away when we started seriously planning the illustrations for “A Bad Day Fishing.” I was fortunate growing up with two sets of grandparents and even a great-grandma and spent nearly every day with at least one of them. So I wanted to find a way to honor my grandma in the story, even if I was the only one who knew it. That’s when we came up with the cardinal idea.

More than a year later, my grandpa, who lived on the same farm where I grew up, got very sick. When I got home from the hospital after visiting with him on the day he entered hospice, my first box of author copies were sitting on my doorstep. I opened the book and adored the dedication page, where I noted the book was inspired by my dad and grandpas, and their relentless pursuit of the big one.

I got to show my grandpa the book. He said he had had a lot of fishing days like that. He said it would be a best-seller (time will tell). He passed away two weeks later.

So if you’re wondering what the cardinal on every page represents, the answer is: family. Our family who has gone before us. Our family who is always with us in some way.


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