Picture books ideas come in all different forms, but here is my journey in writing and illustrating “Hello, My Name is Tiger”.
I’d like to say that I had a grand plan for a picture book that would make kids feel like there are other kids just like them.
But the reality is I just drew a picture.
Before I knew I was going to write and illustrate my book “Hello, My Name is Tiger”, I drew a picture of a kid in a cat suit. Just out of the blue. Not sure why, other than Halloween was around the corner.
An editor saw the drawing and asked me if I had a story to go with it. I told her I would noodle it.
In thinking about it, I remembered that my daughter, when she was 4, had a friend named Simon, who wouldn’t take off his red-footed PJ’s for almost 4 months. He was Clifford the Big Red Dog and no one was going to tell him otherwise.
Simon was having a ball being his favorite character, and in my research I learned there are lots of kids who pretend to be cats and dogs or other creatures. Sometimes they are doing it for fun. But other times, they are going through something they are uncomfortable with and being in costume makes it a little easier. Seems like a good plan to me. I don’t remember, but I may have done this myself when I was a kid.
Actually, here is a picture of me as a bunny. I do recall wearing this on other days than Halloween.
I moved every two years when I was growing up. I was always the new kid and it stressed me out every time I started a new school. I felt like I was going through something that no one else was, that everyone else had it all figured out and everyone else had lots of friends. I wish now that I had someone tell me how I wasn’t really alone in my feelings. Kids who had been at the school and weren’t new, sometimes felt that way too.
In my book, Toby would rather be a cat than a boy as he starts a new school. He struggled with his isolation until a monkey (another boy) rescued him from being stuck in a tree.
Eventually they also befriended a bird (a girl). They were going through the same thing separately until they found each other.
It was a roundabout way I got to making this book. But it all came together for me when I looked deep inside an emotion I had as a child and still have at times as an adult. I’m so familiar with this feeling that once I identified it, I was able to make a book that told my story through Toby/Tiger’s eyes.
Today's guest blogger is Ms. Jennifer P. Goldfinger. She is a children's author and illustrator. You can find more information about Ms. Goldfinger at http://www.jennifergoldfinger.com/.