The idea for these books came out of my lifelong
passion for the natural world and my desire to share my knowledge and enthusiasm about
it with my young readers. I’ve also got a great love for poetry and
the fun of rhyme and so it was great to have the opportunity to be able to use that in
these books. The aim of them is partly to make reading
fun. The rhyme invites readers to join in with the text.
These books are full of information. The illustrations, although they’re very beautiful and very bright
and very attractive for young readers, are also absolutely scientifically accurate.
When I wrote these books as rhyming texts I imagined them as books to be shared. That
parents could take complete delight in reading to their children.
If you like animals, you’ll like these books. Most children’s books that feature animals
feature a very limited number of different species.
On this planet right now there are at least 6 million different species of living thing.
So my aim with Animal Surprises was to share a greater variety of that fantastic biodiversity
with young readers. One of the most fabulous things that the natural
world can give us is a capacity to be eternally surprised. I had loads of fun writing The Word Bird, playing around with the rhymes and playing
around with the biology of the birds. So the aim of that book is to create a read
that’s fun, that invites readers to join in, to shout out the words, for it to be a really really interactive book. So I’m hoping that it will encourage readers
to look at the world around them. Birds are our most accessible wildlife so
I’m really hoping that readers will be motivated to take up their binoculars and go out into
the countryside, into city parks and gardens and discover birds for themselves. There are so many beautiful habitats in the sea, as there are on land. There are jungles
of seaweed, there are coral reefs, there are wide open blue deserts in the middle of the
ocean. We know so little about what’s in our oceans
which cover two thirds of our planet. What I want to do with this book is inspire
a new generation of marine biologists and scuba divers who can go out into the blue
and make their own fabulous discoveries. Abbie Cameron, who’s illustrated these books
is a new illustrator and she’s absolutely wonderful. She has done the most fabulous
job because she’s managed to do illustrations that are absolutely zoologically accurate
and spot-on, but they’re also warm and friendly and bright and really really appealing to
young readers. She has a great eye for a page, she has a
lovely design eye. Every page looks beautiful and invites readers
in. She’s a genius. So once I’ve got my black outline drawings
I’ll scan those in and put them in photoshop. I like collecting textures so I’ll scan things.
I render them in photoshop with different textures, I’ll then print them out again and
paint back into them. I like softening the lines and adding even
more texture and definition. Then I’ll go into photoshop one more time for a final clean
up and I’ll add the text and assemble all the different layers.
I’d really love to do some more books in this series. I’ve so enjoyed this combination of
information and playing around with rhyme, and Abbie’s wonderful wonderful illustrations.
I’d really like to do a reptile one next and of course with the natural world there’s an
inexhaustible supply of material.