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FRAMINGHAM — Matt Rufo’s path to authoring children’s books is somewhat unconventional.

Rufo, owner of Framingham-based Everything Quality Construction, admits he hated reading and writing as a high school student. But those feelings changed when he enrolled at UMass Amherst. Rufo credited a student teacher for helping him find his creative side and develop a joy for writing.

“I ended up loving writing in my spare time up there,” said Rufo.

Rufo planned to major in English at the university, but was talked out of it by a guidance counselor and instead studied psychology.

The Brighton native worked in corporate sales, property management and real estate — he also owned a pizza shop for a year — before deciding he wanted his own construction business.

“I took a chance,” he said.

Despite the rigors of construction and the time-consuming nature of owning a business, Rufo still found time to write, often short stories. His wife, Tara, an elementary school teacher, pushed him to continue writing.

With schools and businesses shut down last spring at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, Rufo told stories to his 4-year-old daughter, Samantha, more frequently.

“I had the time to start telling her stories and getting them onto paper,” he said. “She enjoyed them.”

Thus, Freddie the Frog, a fun-loving amphibian, was born.

While imagining Freddie, Rufo envisioned the character as a combination of two popular frogs — Kermit the Frog and Dig’Em, the mascot of the Honey Smacks cereal. His illustrator, Kalpart, was able to mash the two frogs together to create Freddie.

Rufo’s published his first book, “Freddie the Frog Flying His Frisbee,” in January. Freddie the Frog learns to throw a Frisbee with the help of his firefighting friend Frank. The book is written using alliteration to help children learn letters, Rufo explained..

At the end of the book, children are encouraged to draw their own version of Freddie the Frog and send a photo to the Freddie the Frog Flying His Frisbee Facebook page. The book also features activities for children to practice spelling and tracing.

“It’s another activity,” said Rufo.

Since publishing the book, Rufo has received several photos of children showcasing the book as part of show and tell at their schools. Rufo reads the book to his daughter often.

“It’s been very surprising, fulfilling, exciting,” he said.

Freddie’s next adventure will be trying a french fry for the first time. That book is slated to be published in the coming weeks.

All of Freddie’s adventures include a close friend or family member. Rufo said friends and family have long been a very important aspect of his life, dating back to growing up in a two-family home in Brighton with four generations of his family.

Rufo then plans to transition to writing stories about an anteater in the near future.

“It’s terrific,” he said. “It’s nice to do something different.”

“Freddie the Frog Flying His Frisbee” and Rufo’s future books can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and For more information on Rufo’s upcoming children’s books visit

Jeff Malachowski can be reached at 508-490-7466 or Follow him on Twitter @JmalachowskiMW.

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