Author Heather Gallagher talks about the inspiration behind her latest picture book Scaredy Cat…
I had fun writing a blog about Pip for a year or so. About how he turned me from dog-phobic to dog lover. But unfortunately, as the years passed, Pip developed anxiety. As much as my family and I adored Pip, we could no longer ignore his “issues”. So, after much procrastination, I signed him up for an anxiety assessment with the vet.
It was during this time, when he’d run away from another dog on the beach and come skulking back to me, that I called him a scaredy cat. “Why do you have to be such a Scaredy Cat, Pip?” I moaned and then instantly a line popped into my head. “Afraid of this and afraid of that”.
I came home and busily scribbled down a few ideas. Pip was afraid of loud noises (including the vacuum cleaner and saucepans clanging), delivery men and of course, other dogs. Last year I studied poetry at university and I’ve also been studying picture books for quite some time so playing around with rhyme is something I’ve been doing a bit of lately and finding quite fun. And so I began working on Scaredy Cat – playing around with ideas and rhyme – every morning as I took Pip for his walk.
When my children were small they loved finding different things in picture books. I immediately knew that this would be a look-and-find book where kids would find bits of Scaredy Cat on each spread, until the final reveal when he’s shown to be a dog.
Illustrator Anil Tortop found a small dog as her model for Scaredy Cat because she needed to find one whose paws and tails, etc could pass as a cat. And I’m delighted that in the readings I’ve done so far that’s what kids are really drawn to, hunting down Scaredy Cat in the pictures. And the surprise and delight when he is revealed as a dog is a joy to behold.
If only Pip’s anxiety was so easily solved!