One of the things I love about writing picture books is the surreal conversations I have with editors. Here are three of my favourites.
'Charlie's elephants don’t bake cakes!'
Fair enough. When I wrote the text I didn't realise I'd be lucky enough to have Charlie Fuge illustrate it, and Charlie does amazingly naturalistic animals. There's a fine line in the world of talking animals, and it has a lot to do with whether the illustrator is drawing the animal clothed or unclothed, in a natural or unnatural surrounding. Unclothed animals in a natural setting don't bake cakes. The only trouble was, the pivotal point of the story involves a birthday cake. We settled on a raw concoction of bananas and peanuts.
From Trumpet, the Little Elephant with the Big Temper,
illustrated by Charles Fuge.
I'm delighted to say that Charles Fuge is the illustrator of
my upcoming picture book 'Who Woke the Baby', to be published later this year.
No cakes are involved.
'Would a little dragon really say the same thing as a little knight?'
Once you give a talking animal (and an imaginary one at that) a voice it has to sound authentic, so the question is a valid one. Saying the same thing was a useful device to emphasise their parallel thoughts and feelings.
From Knight School,
illustrated by Jane Massey
'Should the cow have udders?'
Essential in real life, but not in picture books. No problem if the cow is in the field, but udders are somewhat disturbing when a cow is standing on its hind legs. In picture books, dangly bits of any kind, belonging to any sort of clothed/unclothed/partially clothed creature, are most notable by their absence.
Some of the cast of Old Macdonald's Things That Go, in the process of being illustrated by Migy Blanco.
Picture book editors, writers. illustrators and readers, I'd love to hear your surreal quotes!
Jane's currently doing lots of school visits in the run up to World Book Day and launching the first two books of a new series published by Oxford University Press on 5 February 2015.