Friday, 13 July 2012

Tigers, morals and good old-fashioned nakedness.

Well it's now July, although interestingly the weather still remains exactly the same as when I last got down and bloggy with it back in ruddy winter. Anyhoo, my new picture book The Last Tiger is due for release on 20th July and I'm having a little book launchey-thing in it's honour at WHSmiths Bookshop in Sudbury, Suffolk at 11am if any of you lovely people would care to join me? Here's a flier giving you all the relevant juicy details;

The book is set in a bleak smog-ridden industrial-wastey future when there seems to be no trees or animals left at all until a boy discovers the last living tiger hiding in a cave amongst all the rubbish and waste. The book then revolves around their friendship until tragedy strikes when faceless authorities discover the tiger, take him away and put him on public show. But then the boy discovers that inside the tiger’s cave is a secret garden and ... basically it all ends happily with a hopeful view of the future once the people have been reminded of what the world once was and what it could be again....

Fairly ambitious plot for a picture book I realise! Luckily I have a fairly ambitious publisher, Lion Hudson, prepared to put my books out. In the current climate so many publishers are retreating to ‘safe’ picture books about mice and bears having a cuddle where as I like to write children's books with a bit more meat on the bone.

The last thing I want to write, however, is a preachy book but I do think kids are quite receptive , eager even, for big challenging ideas, as long as they’re presented in a fun way that they can relate to. Hence my two books Just Because and Sometimes based around my children, one of which has severe cerebral palsy, and Zoo Girl which came out last year about a girl in care who ends up being adopted - and now the Last Tiger which is about the importance of looking after the planet. These are all big broad themes - adoption, disability, conservation, yes, but my main aim and starting point for each book is always just to write great, exciting, fun, funny books that engage a child’s imagination - the last tiger is essentially a fun book about the friendship between a boy and a tiger - if a secondary theme can come along for the ride adding extra weight to the whole project then all the better.

Not that I'm always interested in a deep moral or theme. I've just finished a book called Naked Trevor which is frankly just a straight-forward ridiculous and funny tale about a sparrow refusing to wear his 'sparrow costume' - a book purely designed to make children giggle and there’s nothing wrong with that either. But still perhaps I hope it has something more to 'say' than a book about safe fluffy mice and bears having a cuddle? Perhaps not. But nakedness is always funny. That much I do know.

Oh and in other news I'm currently fat with child (and all the cakes, chocolate and crisps I'm consuming under the all-encompassing excuse of being pregnant) due in September so I'm aiming to take at least 6 months off to look after said sproglet and also write that children's novel I started so long ago and my lovely agent keeps rightly nagging me for. Whether or not I actually posses the skills necessary to successfully write a novel remains to be seen. Whether or not I actually posses the skills necessary to successfully parent a third child also remains to be seen. Wish me luck. xx

P.S. Not sure whether I've ever talked about Signed Stories here? Well, if not (and yes I do realise my insane laziness at not looking through my previous blogs to check this. Deal with it, I have.) check them out here - they have signed animated versions of Just Because, Sometimes and Zoo Girl. Enjoy.