The Children’s-Book Version of “What Does the Fox Say?” is a Smashing Success

The cash registers say: "ka-ching!"

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Simon & Schuster
Simon & Schuster

Let’s do this Jeopardy-style — question first:  “Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow?”

Answer: A line from the new children’s book What Does the Fox Say?

Said book — based on last summer’s goofy viral hit — is a bestseller. The literary extension of the crazily popular YouTube music video from Norwegian comedic duo Ylvis — brothers Bard and Vegard — is no cheap stunt designed to cash in on the clip’s soaring popularity. In fact, the idea of creating such a book was always on the brothers’ minds.  But moving the illustrated text to the English market wasn’t and didn’t happen until a wickedly quick turnaround by Simon & Schuster prepped the book in time for a Dec. 10 U.S. release.

Even before the international fox phenomena took off, the brothers tried to entice Norwegian illustrator Svein Nyhus to join the book project. He denied, at first. He came calling once YouTube fame took over.

With nearly 300 million hits on the video—originally produced to market their talk show I Kveld Med Ylvis—the rapid popularity only brought rise to the intriguing idea of putting together an accompanying children’s book. USA Today quotes Vegard as saying: “We thought it would be funny to have a really well-done book as merchandise for a tanked project. It’s just so stupid. But stupid dollars are the same as smart dollars.”

Simon & Schuster signed on for the U.S. rights in November and designed the book in a single day. The debut went just fine, selling out on Amazon in a day and moving the book into printing after printing while placing it on bestseller lists across the nation. We still don’t even care what the seal or duck says, it has always been about the fox.