Kate Hindley is one of Team Toppsta’s favourite illustrators so we were thrilled to hear that she’d illustrated AND written a new series of books for babies and toddlers. Over to Kate to tell you more…
“I'm writing my first book!” I told everyone.
It had been a long time coming. It felt very satisfying to make the switch from telling everyone I'd really like to write, to saying that I was finally officially writing my first book. Two books in fact. And they were going to be published by a proper publisher in London and (hopefully) sold in real bookshops.
Everyone was impressed and an excitable exchange followed back and forth, until it abruptly peaked and ended with myself exclaiming, “It has flaps!”.
Marcel's Parcels is six spreads long and has one hundred and fifty-seven words. Looking back it’s quite astonishing just how much editing could be done to one hundred and fifty-seven words.
When I first approached Simon & Schuster with a novelty book idea, Marcel's Parcels was Marcel's Motorcar. It was to be a simple Rule of Three Farce: Marcel takes his ailing antique Rolls Royce into a garage who diagnose each malfunction by discovering a hidden monkey in the works. To my delight, my publisher didn't hate it. In fact, they quite liked Marcel, the garage, and even the monkeys, but felt that the narrative wasn't quite satisfying enough for today's discerning toddler.
I was quite pleased with that. I'd come away with an elephant, a garage, and a car full of monkeys, and most importantly no one scoffing at the thought of me trying to write a book.
So I sharpened my pencil and wondered what else I could throw at this. Definitely a Post Office (I'd had post office sketches knocking around my desk for years...), a Pie Shop (selling proper pies in a tray with gravy.) Perhaps a Ballet (because everyone deserves a bit of culture!). Soon enough I had a handful of characters and a street of independent businesses. I decided to call it Treacle Street because it is fun to say and because it’s my Grandad's favourite butty filling.
Simon & Schuster very kindly gave the idea a thumbs up and in no time at all we were elbows deep in working out the mechanics of it all. There were a whole host of puzzles I'd never encountered before. How do you prompt someone into opening a flap just at the right moment in the text? How do I draw the underside of a flap when it’s a glass door and everything needs to line up neatly? How do I make a parcel look like it’s full of legwarmers?
Thankfully I have a brilliant Editor and Designer who helped turn what could have been frustrating head scratchers into enjoyable conundrums. I found the process of developing and resolving Marcel's story remarkably satisfying, and really hope that people find it as much fun to read as it was to write and illustrate.