The election of Donald Trump was one of the most sensational occurrences in modern US history, leading to a barrage of media coverage, and strong feelings from both his supporters and opponents. Yet, as adults bickered and fussed about the pros and cons—mostly the cons—of the new leader of the free world, two Twitter personalities - twin brothers named Ed and Brian Krassenstein - decided to do something entirely different: write a hilarious children’s book about the often blunt, crass, and otherwise ill-behaved president.

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The initial concept for the book came about when Ed and Brian, who are both fathers, were trying to think of a way to convey to their children that they should not behave like Donald Trump.

It’s a question that has not needed to be posed before, as most presidents set examples that youngsters could follow without negative actions. However, mimicking some of Donald Trump’s gestures, language, and actions, would likely result in kids landing in detention, getting grounded, or instigating both verbal and/or physical fights.

Ed and Brian Krassenstein view Trump as a counterexample to a role model; frequently personifying bullying and immoral behaviors that most parents try to deter their children from displaying. Seeing the president act out so frequently is confusing to children at best, and fueling aggressors at worst.

In response to the truly distressing situation, the brothers turned to humor and decided to make a children’s book urging children not to act as Trump does. They subsequently created a character called “Ronald Plump” who gets elected as leader in a town called “Do Work City” and proceeds to behave preposterously.

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Illustrated by Benny Rahdiana, the book features an array of characters based on real people.

There is a squirrel named “Weave Bannon” who exists only in Ronald Plump’s head and controls his actions, thoughts, and improbable-looking hair. A foreign leader named “Loudimir Tootin” who influences Ronald and “toots” rockets is another character, as is “Persistent Warren” a female who represents determination and strength. Many other characters abound in the forty-page hardcover book which is launching on Kickstarter this month and is seeking to raise $25,000.

Recently, Brian Krassenstein granted an exclusive interview where he discussed the process of creating the book, it’s launch on Kickstarter, his aspirations for the story, and more.

Children, books, and the president

Meagan Meehan (MM): You’re known for your Twitter posts, so how did you get into Tweeting and how did you amass your following?

Brian Krassenstein (BK): Both Ed and I have been on Twitter for years. It wasn't until the 2016 election that we started making our political views heard and we began to obtain such a following.

I think the fact that we state our opinions without resorting to personal attacks on others and do so in a respectful manner helps.

MM: Do you find it ironic that Donald Trump also has a fondness for Tweeting?

BK: Actually, I think it's Trump's fondness of Twitter which attracted both of us to tweeting. When we saw some of the ignorant, childish things he would tweet every morning, we both couldn't help but reply. We got such a large following that our replies ended up usually at the top of the comments section, thus leading to even more followers! This wasn't planned by us, it just sort of happened.

MM: As a parent, what are your concerns regarding your children being exposed to Trump’s often-unsavory antics?

BK: My biggest fear is that President Trump is normalizing such behavior. I want to teach my children that everyone is created equal no matter their race, religion, place of origin or political ideologies. Trump is currently an obstacle to many of us parents. With every other President in my lifetime I would be ecstatic to see my child grow up in their footsteps. With Trump, that seems almost like a nightmare that I personally cannot fathom.

MM: Have your children reported an increase in bullying in their schools and/or have you seen more general aggression and rudeness in society since he took office?

BK: My son is too young for school. Ed has a four-year-old, and as far as I know, the answer would be no. With that said, I don't think he's old enough either to really see much influence quite yet.

MM: What prompted you to write a children’s book about “Ronald Plump” and how long did it take to complete?

BK: Back in April, Ed's son Pierce specifically asked him one day, "Is Donald Trump a bad guy?" Ed didn't know how to answer that in a way that would teach him that Trump's actions and words are not something to mimic while being cautious not to blatantly disrespect the President of the United States in front of his son. That very week we wrote a rough draft of the book and within three weeks we found an illustrator named Benny Rahdiana, who began working to make this vision of ours happen.

Illustrations, Kickstarter, and publishing

MM: How are the illustrations coming along and how did you find the artist?

BK: We have completed twenty-six of the forty-two estimated pages which will be found in the book once complete. We found the artist online through the freelance website called Upwork. I could not ask for a better illustrator! Benny is just spectacular.

MM: You really took aim at Bannon in this book, so do you expect that he is going to fire back at all?

BK: Who knows? Many of the personalities within the Trump administration/campaign, including the President himself, have already blocked us on Twitter. It wouldn't surprise me to hear some of them fire back, especially if we achieve our Kickstarter goal and get to publish this story.

MM: What lessons do you hope the book conveys and do you want adults to enjoy it as much as kids?

BK: First and foremost, the book is written to convey a message of inclusion, selflessness, honesty and the fact that we are all born equal no matter what we look like or what our beliefs may be. We want to teach our children strong morals without pushing politics on them. What this book doesn't seek to do, politicize the minds of our children, which I'm sure many Trump supporters will claim we are trying to do.

Yes, we have made sure that the humor in the book, especially via the illustrations, appeals to adults, as well as children. Adults will likely enjoy the story and the humor as much, if not more than the kids will.

MM: Be honest, which of the real Trump’s antics have most shocked and/or surprised you?

BK: That's a tough question. There are so many instances where I've thought, "this cannot be real," and then witness the President double down and make a situation ten times worse. The whole “grabbing women” comment infuriated me and surprised me all at once, but every day Trump seems to outdo himself and embarrass this country even more.

MM: How do you think adults can make a point to set a good example for children even in these trying times?

BK: Turn off the television and spend time with your kids. Teach them strong morals and let them know that everyone has different opinions on different topics. If they know to follow their own heart and lead a life of honesty and integrity, while treating everyone the same, they will turn out alright regardless of the President's rhetoric.

MM: Are you self-publishing this book and why did you decide to launch it on Kickstarter?

BK: Yes, if the Kickstarter campaign reaches or exceeds the $25,000 goal, we will be self-publishing this book. We chose Kickstarter because it's incredibly expensive to publish your own book, and it will almost always be a losing cause unless you sell at least 750-1000 books. The $25,000 goal allows us to gauge the market and pre-sell the book prior to publication. If we don't have enough interest we don't have to go broke publishing it for only a few people. If the Kickstarter goal is not reached, we will likely use a print-on-demand service and just make a few copies for our friends and family.

MM: Might you write other children’s books in the future and, if so, which topics would you like to tackle?

BK: As you know, this is our first children's book we have ever written. If all goes well, you will likely see other books coming from Ed and I. We'd like to continue using the Ronald Plump character in the future, but also we'd like to consider doing more stories about inclusion, race, religion, and ethnicity.