Today I’m delighted to be sharing a riotous rampage of a picture book packed with animals behaving VERY badly on holiday! A dream combination of crazy escapades, animals who won’t take no for an answer, and the energetic, anarchic illustrations of David Tazzyman!
Make sure you read Patricia’s exclusive piece about the inspiration behind her hilarious ‘Elephant’ series.
Imagine playing minigolf with meerkats or building a sandcastle with an armadillo! And don’t even think about eating candyfloss when there’s an albatross about!
Jam-packed with crazy creatures, this brilliant new book from the creators of You Can’t Take an Elephant on the Bus, You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Diggerand You Can’t Call an Elephant in an Emergency is riotous, laugh-out-loud fun!
PATRICIA CLEVELAND-PECK’S INSPIRATION FOR THE ELEPHANT SERIES
In the case of ‘You Can’t Take an Elephant on the Bus,’ I have a very clear recollection of exactly when the idea came to, or rather was given to, me. My granddaughter, Izzie was about 3-years-old and she was playing at our house when she suddenly turned to my late husband and said, “You know, you can’t take an elephant on the bus, Grandpops…”
I have no idea what gave her this idea, maybe she had just realised how big real elephants are compared with her soft-toy elephant but for me it was an immediate picture book ‘flash’.
For other books the flash has been an image. The Queen’s Spaghetti was inspired by the sight of my ducks waddling down the path with strings of spaghetti twisted and twiddled round their beaks. I had cooked far too much spaghetti and fed some to them in an effort to hide the evidence.
In the case of the Elephant series, after that original sentence of Izzie’s, I imagined a gang of rather silly animals who mean well but always get things wrong and then put them in absurd situations. Once I had got the authorial voice right; a bit bossy and nanny-ish with all those, ‘you cant’s,’ ‘I wouldn’ts’ and ‘don’ts’, it was just a case of linking the activities loosely to a theme; vehicles, emergencies, holidays et al in which the animals could wreak their havoc.
Sometimes the physical look of the animal gives me an idea. A centipede for example, would certainly get fed up with trying to put boots on his 100 feet. Similarly, how would a whale ride a bike without a bottom to sit on the seat? And how would he pedal without any feet?
The prompt can also be a characteristic of the animal’s behaviour; llamas do spit and as children always appreciate something a bit disgusting, seeing the llamas spitting all over the people on the beach makes them laugh – as does the kangaroo bouncing off the toilet and weeing on the floor. Of course, it is the way in which my wonderful illustrator David Tazzyman captures all this silliness which goes a long way to make the books what they are.
Isn’t it amazing how the idea for a book can come from an almost throwaway comment or the slightly antisocial behaviour of an animal? Thank you for sharing your inspirations, Patricia.
If you’re looking for your next giggle-worthy read, this could just be it….
*Many thanks to Bloomsbury for inviting me to be a part of this of tour*