Is There a Dog in This Book? is up for the Children’s Book Award 2016, officially the best award there is. I am running in circles and cheering.
It’s the third outing for my primary-coloured cats. When I first made There are Cats in This Book, I still had to imagine what would happen when a book full of talking cats met a world of three-dimensional children.
By now I’ve read the cat books many, many times to many, many children. I’ve seen them read by other people, and read by children to one another.
I’ve got very detailed feedback over email from complete strangers telling me what happened when they read the books.
Children are talking back to the books, looking for the cats outside the books just in case they’d actually got out, and even sending them letters (mostly to Moonpie, who always writes back).
The books work as intended. The cats are most definitely real and making friends for life.
There wasn’t really a need for a third book, since you can just keep reading the first two over and over. So my challenge for the third book was to make it into a full-blown paper theatre performance, introducing a (much requested) dog friend and offering all the cues to shout “LOOK BEHIND YOU!” and “THEY ARE IN THE PIANO!” … there would be true love, heartbreak, betrayal and drama and a big twist. And dinosaurs.
The cats have been living in the books for nearly a decade, so by now the book has accumulated furniture. I remembered the kinds of paper I was fascinated by as a child; the piano is made from the oddly marbled card my father’s filing boxes were lined with, plus some shiny sweet wrappers.
I made a range of patterns for the dresses. I finally found a use for a wallpaper pattern I designed for a particularly silly job, and I enjoyed turning all the flowers into broccoli to cover the cats’ sofa with it.
Anyway, it’s time for the cats to go and compete for their trophy, so I will step back and let Moonpie speak for them all – or rather sing – a motivational song, I think. I think it’s motivational. Let’s see. Here we go, world premiere:
By Moonpie the Cat
so many things
to make and do
I make hairballs
how about you?
You can make a noise
you can make a cake
you can make a box full of all things
that you can make
you can make a good impression
if you make me dinner
I could make you compliments
then everyone’s a winner
if you make a lie detector
I will make up lies
you can make a model plane
or one that is full size
you can make a paper plane that flies …
(until I catch it)
make a mess
make a rocket
make a dress
with a pocket
you can make it big, heavy, double-glazed and tall
if you make your mind up
you can make
Is There a Dog in this Book? is shortlisted for the 2016 Children’s Book Award in the Books for Younger Children category. It is published by Walker Books.