I just read and reviewed the most adorable children’s picture book for the blog today. I was actually lucky enough to get an advance copy at BEA earlier this year. It was the most adorable picture book.
So I want to thank Helen & Tom for taking the time out of their very busy schedules to do this for me. Thank you so very much for doing this for me and I can’t wait to share my love of the book with everyone.
After reading the book I wondered what the inspiration was behind the character of The Snatchabook but he is just too cute and I am so happy that Helen answered my question about it. She was even gracious enough to send a sketch. What do you think?
Inspiration behind the character of The Snatchabook
Helen: I have always been drawn to characters that transgress in some way – characters that are flawed, but not beyond redemption. Dr Seuss’s The Grinch Who Stole Christmas has always been one of my favorite children’s books, and was definitely an influence in the creation of the Snatchabook (although they are, of course, very different characters). I am also interested in outsiders, and how their arrival impacts on a community (a theme also explored in our next book, Abracazebra).
The idea of a book thief who steals children’s bedtime stories popped into my head at the end of a long day of trying (and failing) to think up interesting storylines. A book cruncher? A book snatcher? No, a Snatchabook! Almost immediately, I saw the potential to develop the story as a mystery with plenty of suspense, a brave heroine and a twist in the tale – namely, that the Snatchabook is just a pitiful little creature, whose motivation for stealing all the books is simply that is he is desperate to be read to; to be included in the cosy bedtime world of Burrow Down. When you read to your own children and see their faces light up when they’re listening to a good story, the idea of any child being excluded from that experience is almost unbearable.
Tom and I had a lot of fun developing the character of the Snatchabook visually. I had an image in my head of a sort of bush baby with long, delicate wings and a long tail, and Tom set to work drawing sketches. He interpreted it so brilliantly that it looked like a creature that already existed. Here are his earliest sketches:
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