Saturday, 17 October 2015

Turning your family into animals by Jane Clarke

In the fifteen years I’ve been writing picture book texts, I’ve turned most of the members of my family into animals by matching up a trait of theirs with an animal that can be used to exaggerate it. Often this is just in my head, and incidental to the story, but occasionally the match up has made a book:

My dad hated to go to the dentist - and as a result had a couple of false teeth.  I turned him into the grandpa walrus who is persuaded to go to the dentist and in Tusk Trouble, illustrated by Cecilia Johansson.

One of my sons was prone to very impressive temper tantrums when he was small - he’s Trumpet, the Little Elephant with the Big temper, illustrated by Charles Fuge. 

My other son never could resist a dare - he's the racoon in Creaky Castle illustrated by Christyan Fox.

And me? I’m quick to panic, so I’m the squawking hen in Stuck in the Mud illustrated by Garry Parsons.

Have you turned any of your family into animals? Let us know if you have - and if you haven't -  why not have a go? 

Jane's latest picture book, illustrated by Charles Fuge - and inspired by her baby granddaughter.


  1. I haven't yet, at least not consciously. But now you've showed how to play that game, I can see that it's going to happen ... What fun!

  2. Oooh... this is very tempting! I'm feeling quite inspired by this. Although I haven't used a human member of my family yet, I have used my dog's traits (but I didn't turn her into a human - perhaps that's another avenue to try!)

  3. Not yet but I may be about to now... thanks!

  4. Adore your examples, Jane. My stories are often inspired by people I know and I once based an actual character on a family member, though I diluted the characterisation. Even so, an editor told me to tone down that character because nobody could live with somebody like that. Ha ha, can you tell I'm being very careful what I say?!

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  6. I've used the dog as inspiration and an ex-boss for one of my older reader books but never for a picture book. Always been a little scared they'd see themselves and not like what I've included. But as it's worked for you I might just give it a go.