As a parent of young children, I have seen my fair share of children's animal picture books. Lovely as they are, they pretty much stick to the pig, cow, lion list. These are great and inspiring in their own way but what about the other incredible, mind-blowing, forgotten, unloved creatures that inhabit the earth?!
It was only recently when planning my teaching of a science class about adaptation with 10 and 11 year olds that I came across this website. My mind was blown. The site is incredible and has opened up a whole new world of learning and understanding to me. Since finding it there has not been a day gone by when I don't find something that makes me gawp. Via the animals section I was looking at, what I figured, images of some pretty weird and scary creatures. And then it hit me. They were only 'weird' and 'scary' to me because I hadn't seen them before. In my 35 years I'd never seen or heard of a star-nosed mole or a goblin shark. Looking further, I then found a link to a news article where the blobfish was proclaimed to be the world's ugliest creature.
Then the two ideas married in my mind. Create a picture book for young children championing and introducing these unusual and unloved animals. As a parent, I know I would love to have my boys know a little more about the world then just this narrow animal field we are used to. As a teacher, these creatures offer some fascinating insights into the world of adaptation. As an illustrator, give myself a challenge. I'd like to think I'm the first one doing this.
I feel slightly embarrassed that I didn't know many of the animals on my list but realised that that's a good enough reason as any to start this project. Seeing and researching these creatures gave me the wonder and awe of a child again. Hopefully this book can do likewise.
What animals are going to be on the list?
The blobfish is in. That's a start. The list has been created but I don't want to reveal the whole list as I think it would be more fun to discover the book for yourself when it is printed. That said, here's one more and if you've read the whole of this project there are a couple of more hints....
What about the illustrations?
Illustration has always been a source of great enjoyment but its only been in the last couple of years where I've started to see my work begin to get noticed. I have drawn several cartoons for the Guardian website where you can see my profile and my work has been featured on posters, greetings cards, websites and in online videos.
What are the rewards?
Funding from Kickstarter will be used to make copies of the books and posters / postcards. My main aim is to make a beautiful board book that celebrates the diverse forms of life we have on our planet but hopefully you may see some other goodies that take your fancy on the right of the project. If you think there's a reward I'm missing out on then let me know!
Risks and challenges
Having self-published in the past I know reliable local printers who create a product I am pleased with. By having the chance to speak to them face to face I feel confident that the finished book will be the highest quality I can make it.
I have links to a local bookshop after launching a poetry book with them so expanding that link and getting into libraries will be the next step.
Challenges - illustrating unknown / rare creatures.
Risks - scientists who know their stuff and lament me for making a yeti crab too hairy.
- (40 days)