Writer-illustrator Uncle Hyggly wrote book as a Christmas gift

Uncle Hyggly first wrote “Mr. Gonopolis And His 12 Holsteins” as a Christmas gift for his six nephews and nieces, having no idea how far his little tale would travel. The next five years saw the release of the audio cassette version (which also played on radio stations coast-to-coast), more printings, the book adapted to Christmas paegants by a dozen elementary schools, and three more books written and illustrated by Uncle Hyggly.

Written in vivid verse and peppered with whimsical illustrations, “Mr. Gonopolis And His 12 Holsteins” has become a Christmas gift classic for families from coast-to-coast as many people have written to tell of their family’s own dramatic reading beneath the Christmas tree. Uncle Hyggly has received fan mail from people in all 50 states, many of whom share stories with him of their grandchildren , their own farms full of cows and thanks for providing a new, wholesome Christmas story for fans of all ages, and a lasting and memorable Christmas gift idea to bring smiles and laughter to everyone in the family.

Many stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines over the years, some calling him a “rural version of Dr. Seuss” and others calling his “Mr. Gonopolis” tale a “Lake Wobegon version of The Night Before Christmas.”

Early influences

But Uncle Hyggly says he found his inspiration nearer the shores of Frostbite Falls, Minnesota than Lake Woebegon. He counts hours of watching “Rocky and Bullwinkle” on a snowy black-and-white TV and additional time cuddled under the covers with a flashlight and a Superman comic book as forming his artistic sensibilities.”I loved the wacky humor of Bullwinkle that appeals to kids and adults at different levels. I loved them as a kid, but never really got the jokes until I was much older, ” he said, “Then I was able to enjoy them again on a totally different level. That’s what I try to do in my writing.”

Likewise, Uncle Hyggly absorbed the adventures and ethics of fighting for “truth, justice and the American way” that filled the pages of comic books of his youth. “In many ways,” Uncle Hyggly said, “Clark Kent was the quintessential farm boy — his values and beliefs were actually rural values and beliefs instilled in him by Ma and Pa Kent as he was growing up on a small farm in Kansas” — similar to Uncle Hyggly’s own rural upbringing on a farm near Ashby, Minnesota “except I never got that ‘flying thing’ down, “he laments.

“Mr. Gonopolis wears a feed jacket and a seed corn hat instead of a cape and long underwear, and he has no super powers'” Uncle Hyggly said, “but his goodness, decency and traits like going to the ends of the Earth to help a friend kind of embody those values my own parents taught me while growing up in rural America.”

His favorite Christmas gift as a young boy? A red Etch-A-Sketch — it was the only Christmas gift he ever peeked at before it got under the tree!