A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Meet Douglas, a dog with a big problem: he needs eyeglasses but doesn t know it, and his bad eyesight tends to land him in some pretty hairy situations.
Readers will laugh along with the new picture book character Douglas as he chases a leaf that he mistakes for a squirrel, walks through wet cement because he cat n’s the warning sign, and annoys the neighbor’s dog by mistakenly eating out of his bowl. And when Douglas s owner Nancy finally takes him to what is clearly an eyeglass store and Douglas asks, Why are you taking me to a shoe store? everyone will be giggling.
After an eye exam confirms that Douglas needs glasses, and Nancy helps him find the perfect pair, readers will rejoice with Douglas as he sees all the amazing things he s been missing!
Both kids and parents will laugh out loud and may even recognize themselves! while reading this utterly irresistible, hilarious picture book.Hi Ged, happy book birthday! Can you tell us a bit more about DOUGLAS, YOU NEED GLASSES?
Douglas is a dog with very poor eyesight. But he’s in denial about this because his short sightedness seems only to inconvenience other people like his friend Nancy and not him. After one mishap too many, she insists he visit the optician.
2) What inspired you to create DOUGLAS? Did it start with the story or the pictures?
I was doodling like I always am and I drew a dog with glasses smoking a pipe. I thought that he’d be a good character for a story. My original idea was that Douglas becomes really brainy when he’s fitted with specs but then I realised it would be far better if the story was more about how he misses out because of his poor vision. I could draw upon my own experiences as a child. I was just like Douglas, I didn’t want to wear glasses so I pretended my eyesight was fine.
3) Tell us a bit more about your working process. Did the story and illustrations evolve together or separately? What is it like to write and illustrate a book?
The story and illustrations evolve together. I always forget that I need to supply a manuscript separate from the art because I see the two things so entirely dependent on each other. It’s like lyrics without music – you need to experience them together. I really enjoy writing and illustrating the story. It’s not a control thing, it’s more that I can get working on things immediately if there’s a problem. I can see it as a whole.
I do love working with editors and art directors. You learn so much and that collaborative element makes it more fun.
I’d love to illustrate another author’s work though – or have another illustrator work on an idea of mine.
4) What was your publishing journey for DOUGLAS like?
I initially sent some colour sketches to Isy Atherton, my agent. She was really excited when she saw Douglas – even in that early stage. I then put together a dummy book and Isy showed it to Lee Wade of Schwartz & Wade. She loved the idea but didn’t think the story was quite right so suggested I rework it. So the next couple of months was a process of rewrites and Lee’s suggestions going back and forth. This in itself was great experience. To have Lee Wade guide you and advise you through all this is the kind of opportunity not many authors will get. Just invaluable. So one day I went to the cinema to relax and take my mind off everything. When I came out there was an email from Isy saying Lee had said they would make an offer for Douglas. That felt amazing, it was great day!
5) And now for some slightly less serious questions… if you could be any picture book character, who would you be and why?
I think I’d like to be Mr Peek from Kevin Waldron’s picture books. He runs a zoo which must be a great thing to do and his son Jimmy seems to be more sensible than him. This is certainly true of me and my son Rex.
6) Have you any real-life glasses-related anecdotes (or mishaps!) you can tell us about?
If you have bad eyesight and you refuse wear glasses – like me when I was a kid – the world constantly plays tricks on you. Like the false bus for instance. When you’re waiting at the bus stop, your brain will turn the stationary blurred shape in the distance into an approaching bus. But it’s a false bus and your hopes are dashed.
7) Tell us about your ideal working day…
My ideal working day is one where I get lots of stuff done and I’m happy with it. Like maybe I get a spread looking how I want and I get closer to finishing a new story for submission. Or I keep to schedule on work for the publishers. But at some point, I must go out and have coffee. Then I can doodle and sketch out ideas in the café. I really enjoy that part of the day. It’s nice to be out in the world because this work can be a very solitary existence.
8) …and your actual working day!
Up at noon and then straight to the pub *sobs*
9) (OK, back to the serious questions now!) Do you have any advice for aspiring picture book authors?
Humour is very important!
When it comes to the text, economy is everything. Let the images tell the story. And play around with areas of white space. Don’t try and fill everything. I’m only just starting to do this myself!
I would also say try and avoid being too generic. If you start from a point of ordinary worlds and everyday situations, it can lead to more original stories. And publishers will say “we’ve already got a pirate book on the list” or “we’re doing a princess story at the moment” so coming up with an idea that doesn’t inhabit these familiar worlds will give you more chance to be noticed.
10) And finally, what are you working on next?
I’m working on two books that are out next year. One is Shark Dog with Harper Collins – I’m so excited about this one – and I Want To Grow with Boyd Mills Press – I just love the two characters in this, Muriel and Herb.
I’ve also got a new story about a rainbow that will go out on submission hopefully within the month. I think it’s one of the best things I’ve done so I’ve my fingers crossed for that one.
Thank you, Ged – great to talk to you! I loved DOUGLAS – it made me and my husband laugh out loud – so I hope everyone else loves it too.
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Ged Adamson is a children’s writer and illustrator. His cartoons have been published in magazines, in books and appeared on film and TV. He’s been a storyboard artist and a caricaturist. Big influences on his work are Quentin Blake, Ronald Searle and James Gillray. He also works as a music composer.
He’s a London history enthusiast. He lives in Greenwich with his partner Helen and their son Rex. His first picture book, Elsie Clarke And The Vampire Hairdresser is published by Sky Pony Press. His second, Meet The McKaws, was published in 2014. Douglas, You Need Glasses is out now from Random House Books for Young Readers.