My book is a fictionalized story about me and a family that Hazel made up. It's story about the growing bond between a child and a new pet. But, it's still about me, a rescued poodle who is a bit scared of his new life, just like in my life with my real people. In the book a young boy and his father move from one house to another, and decide to adopt a dog from the local rescue shelter. But their chosen dog, Toby, (ME!) is having a tough time adjusting to his new life outside the shelter—howling all night, hiding fearfully from his new humans, forgetting where to go to the bathroom, and chasing a ball through the flower bed. (It's hard to know what to do in a new environment!) The boy has promises to train Toby (ME!), and he’s trying his best, but his Dad is starting to get exasperated. (I think this happens quite a lot!). Will Toby (ME!) ever feel comfortable with his new family and settle into his forever home, or will Dad decide he’s not the right dog for them after all? (This is where the story gets sad ...I don't even like to think about it!) You will have to read the story to find out what happens next.
It came about because Hazel was looking for a new story to write and illustrate. And they say you should write about what you love ... so she wrote about me! Then Liz Bicknell, (she is a good type of person and rescues dogs and cats. And she sends me TREATS!!) who is an editor at Candlewick Press liked the story so much, she gave us a contract! OK, it says 'Hazel Mitchell' on the paperwork, but, well, you know it's all about ME, really. That was a long time ago in 2014. Now it's 2016 and my book is just coming out. THAT'S A LONG TIME IN DOG YEARS!
ME and Lucy!
I help Hazel A LOT. I lie in the studio on the futon and snore gently. This noise helps her concentrate and lulls her into a sense of serenity until it is time to give me treats. Sometimes I leap up and chase the cat and run downstairs, which is helpful because it startles her into alertness in case she has drifted into a stupor and forgotten about the treats.
She likes to work in 'pencil' first, which is a pointy stick that leaves a trail. A bit like a snail. I watched her do this on my book. She did all the drawing bit with a pencil and it took her AGES and AGES. I thought we would STARVE some days. But then my other people came home and it was ok and we all ate. Artists can be very forgetful sometimes, which is the hard part of having one belong to you. Then she puts a brown 'watercolour' wash (that's PAINT) on them for something called SHADING and TEXTURE. (I got paint on my paws once and that wasn't so good. Someone had to clean it up. Oops.) After that she puts it on a flat thing with lights that goes WHIRR for a bit and then the picture appears on the 'television screen' and she colours it in with another thing that is like a paintbrush, but with no paint. Which is good, because it is not messy. And then she sends it into the 'interweb' and then a book comes back, finally. It's pretty neat, when you think about it. You people are clever for such dumb animals.
Written by Lisa Gardner Walsh
Is it nap time yet, all this chatter has made me tired ... yawn ... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Thank you so much Toby, and Lucy for doing this interview. Hazel is very lucky that you can help her by representing her here and with her illustration projects. Please tell Hazel I said hello.