Over the years, I've developed a market niche for writing picture books that feature animals and environmental themes.
My picture books Puggle's Problem, Warambi, Our Class Tiger, Zoo Ball, Little Meerkat, Spider Iggy, Stripes in the Forest: The Story of the Last Wild Thylacine and Mama & Hug all feature animals. I've written about echidnas, bats, tigers, meerkats, spiders, thylacines and koalas. Plus, I have a number of picture books coming out in the next year or so that also feature animals.
Using animals as your main character in a picture book allows you to champion an animal or environmental cause - if that's what your story theme is about - but it also allows you to go deeper when sending a message.
Animals such as giraffes, kangaroos, elephants, lions and monkeys are loved and recognised the world over. Children from all countries and cultures love and admire them.
So when you tell an animal's story, or a story from the point of view of an internationally recognised animal, you're telling a story for everyone. No matter what race, religion, age or culture.
My picture book, Little Meerkat is a humorous, lively and adventurous picture book aimed at 3-7 year olds. I've always loved meerkats and always wanted to write a book about them. To be successful, however, the book has to be more than just self-gratification for the author.
I wrote the book as a reflection on childhood independence and bravery, which also carries a message of the importance of family to guide little ones.
Although Little Meerkat is tiny, he has a big imagination. He’s also very brave. Perhaps a little too brave … which leads to all sorts of fun.
From dedicated documentary series to insurance advertisements, meerkats are familiar and popular animals. I used this internationally recognised animal as the main character for a picture book to ensure children from all backgrounds, cultures and countries could connect with and learn from Little Meerkat's story.
The main character, Little Meerkat, craves independence and adventure in his life. His extended family, of Mum, Dad, brother, sister, Aunty and Uncle, are there to guide and protect him.
This is a story that will resonate with young children who sense within themselves a desire to explore and grow, but who still need family support and a cuddle from Mum (or Dad) at the end of the day to reassure them.
Incidentally, my son Riley also loves picture books. He helped me with ideas for the story characters, text and plot.
If you'd like to pick up your very own copy of Little Meerkat, you can find it at the Wombat Books website at: www.wombatbooks.com.au
I'm going to finish off this article with some tips for writing an animal picture book.
5 Top Tips For Writing a Picture Book
Oh, and PS: happy endings are always recommended in a picture book for younger readers!
That's it in the six-part series about picture books. I haven't been able to cover every aspect here because there is so much to learn!
Otherwise, you can download the Greenleaf Press e-book called Making Picture Books with Aleesah Darlison.
Thanks for joining me.