Today we talk about TALES OF SCRATCH THE DOG. ONLY HIS NOSE KNOWS, a book by John Pearce published with our publishing house Europe Books.
Europe Books had the pleasure of interviewing the author John Pearce to get to know him better, where and when he found the inspiration to write his book TALES OF SCRATCH THE DOG. ONLY HIS NOSE KNOWS, as well as the importance of the illustrations in a children’s book.
Below you can find our interview. Take a seat and enjoy your reading!!!
- Where did you find the inspiration to talk about Scratch and its adventures?
The inspiration for Scratch was very much visually led. The story, “Only his Nose Knows” followed on from the creation of the first graphic dog images. As a dog owner and lover, the idea behind a homeless, mutt character was born of observation and personal experience. The result symbolised the very image of the resilient and savvy stray. The name was motivated by the ‘continuous line’ approach of the design and it strongly suggested the name of “Scratch”. That the word could be used as both a name and an action, allowed his first adventure to emerge by describing, not much more than, an ‘average’ day in Scratch’s life. The subsequent invention of the principal antagonists, the Junkyard Crew, almost wrote itself as a way of bringing tension into the story arc. Scratch recognises the possibility of danger in his unfamiliar circumstances. The way in which our hero reacts was, typically resourceful and smart. All’s well in the end and our hero lives to have more adventures!
- How important do you think illustrations are in a children’s book?
Illustrations in children’s books are critically important for a variety of reasons. This is particularly so for very new “readers”. Not only do illustrations add context, action and colour to a story, but they also convey information about the emotions of the characters which would otherwise have to be understood in words. Preparing the illustrations for Scratch the Dog, I spent a significant amount of time briefing and collaborating on visually describing the kinds of emotions displayed by each of the characters in any given circumstance. It was a challenge certainly for the illustrator, Andrea de Francesco, to convey in the face or body language of a dog or a weasel or a rat or a bird emotions like smugness, threat, happiness, submission and so forth. There was always the recognition that there would be a sharing between an adult and a child for this book, and it was designed to work in that environment. I’m very pleased with how well it worked out in this context. The words and pictures work together but it’s often the pictures that carry the heavy work of engaging the young reader.
- What would you like to hear from your readers?
That the experience of bringing “Scratch” into their lives was positive. And rewarding. And, above all, fun. I’d like to hear that the team investment in both time and effort paid off handsomely for the reader. That they enjoyed the book; the story and the adventure. I put a good deal of effort into making sure that there were words and ideas that titillated; words that informed and words that educated. I’d like to hear that both the child (and any adult) enjoyed the sharing experience and that it was repeated. Many times. I’d love to hear that “Scratch” had become a “go to” favourite.
- How did it feel to see your book published?
I suppose there’s always a special ‘something’ about one’s first… of anything! Being in Australia and my publishing journey starting with memories of Covid and isolation and ‘lockdowns’ still redolent, it was no surprise that there were increased difficulties – time zone differences, remoteness etc. Then there were challenges with the production process where my original illustrator – and the instigator of the whole project – decided to pull out. I’m immensely grateful to Europe Books for stepping in and finding a local artist, Andrea, willing and capable of collaborating on my project. My background was a career in the marketing communications field so I was no stranger to working with artists. The aspect of not having personal contact or interaction was very different, however. That things become “easier” with technology aren’t always correct. Certainly not in my case! Everything suffers from a certain lag; decisions take longer to make, issues longer to resolve, miscommunication easier to fall into and harder to fix. The team in Italy worked tirelessly to make it all happen and I’m very grateful to them.
- Are you working on new writing projects that you can tell us about?
I’ve recently completed a book using limericks to describe the collective nouns for a variety of animals. An ABC of unusual and interesting species. From Aardvarks (collective noun: armoury) to Zebras (collective noun: dazzle). In all, there are some sixty plus animals listed including land animals, sea creatures, reptiles, birds and insects. Also on the drawing board is a possible sequel to this Scratch book, whereby our resourceful stray finds his ‘forever’ home and bestie. “Oh, For The Love of Dog” is definitely a work still in progress. And leaving canines behind for a moment, there’s a collaborative project brewing about “hero snails”. This has a working title of “The Frail Snail Bandits and the Cruel Frog King” which is progressing at something of a snail’s pace at the moment!
Europe Books thanks the author John Pearce once again for taking the time and answering our questions. We are really pleased to have walked alongside him on the editorial path that led to the publication of his book TALES OF SCRATCH THE DOG. ONLY HIS NOSE KNOWS. We wish him the best of luck for his book and for his future works.
To you, my dear reader, may SCRATCH and his adventures bring you joy and fun, and that the illustrations give you a lovely experience to feel and understand. And remember that, no matter how adult you are, books for children have a lot to teach us all! Written in simple and clear concepts, illustrated children’s book have the ability to give us important life lessons or they put us back in touch with our forgotten child side which just needs to be awoken.
So, my dear reader, all I have to say is to enjoy your reading!