'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 14 October 2019

Guest Post: Q & A with Liz Leddon on Tulip And Brutus

Tulip and Brutus is your new picture book, about a ladybug and a stinkbug who never play together. What inspired this story?
The initial idea for Tulip and Brutus was based around two things – wanting to write an unlikely friendship story (one of my favourite types of picture books!) and thinking about kids not knowing what they’re missing until they’re exposed to something new. 

One of my kids was going through a period of insisting they hated certain foods, and when they finally tried them, they’d often discover they actually loved them!

And this can translate to exposure to new people, right?
Definitely! This first idea then led to me thinking about division, whether it be in a community, a school playground, or even in a backyard, and how coming together exposes you to things you never realised you loved. When the bugs in the story find their habitats merged from a flood, Brutus the cheeky stinkbug discovers a new use for an aphid (a delightful addition to the story via Andrew Plant’s illustrations), while prim and proper Tulip realises the fun of playing in mud. And of course, they discover each other.

What do you hope readers will enjoy and discover when reading Tulip and Brutus?
Hopefully readers will enjoy the fun, action, illustrations and wordplay in the story, but also think about what they’re missing out on if they stick with the same people, do the same things, play the same games or even eat the same foods. The bugs in the story never played together as they thought they were so different, but once together, their whole world changed, and they found common ground.

What do you think is the appeal of bug characters in picture books?
Bugs are so quirky and cute! But I also think the idea of a micro world happening in tandem to ours is fascinating, where everything happens on a tiny scale. In Tulip and Brutus, their whole world is based in a garden. The heavy rain causes a ‘flood’ in their world, but to us it wouldn’t seem as significant. Bugs also have interesting features, like producing bad smells for example, which can provide comedy and drama in a story.

Bugs are popping up a lot right now in picture books. Do you have some other favourites?
There are so many great ones! I love Aura Parker’s bug books, like Twig and Cocoon, Cicada by Shaun Tan, Here Comes Stinkbug by Tohby Riddle, The Last Peach by Gus Gordon, and there’s a few new non-fiction bug books I’m dying to check out like There are Bugs Everywhere by Britta Teckentrup, and Searching for Cicadas by Lesley Gibbes. There do seem to be a lot of bug books out right now, and I’m excited to be part of it!

Finally, if you could be a bug for a day, what would you choose?
I’d be a dragonfly (even though one ended up being perceived a threat to Tulip and Brutus!). I love their shape, elegance and delicate whirring wings, and they remind me so much of lotus ponds and tropical gardens in my former South East Asian home, so there’s the nostalgia factor too!

Tulip and Brutus is written by Liz Ledden, illustrated by Andrew Plant and published by Ford StreetPublishing. Released 1 October 2019.

Liz Ledden is a Sydney-based children’s book writer who also co-hosts kids’ book podcast One More Page. Find her online at www.lizledden.com

Visit again soon for more exciting interviews with Liz and our KBR review of, Tulip and Brutus.