You know I love a book launch, and how precious was this one with an invitation to BYO (well behaved) dog?! At The Children's Bookshop in Beecroft, NSW, owner Paul MacDonald's dog couldn't contain his excitement (see tail vigorously wagging) at the launch of the Fizz police dog series.
Most of the assembled crowd of children were Fizz converts. Paul explained that the Fizz books were already the best selling books for young kids because they they are fantastic stories written beautifully and they tick all the boxes - written by a fantastic writer, illustrated by an Aussie picture book legend and about dogs - win, win, win!
Fizz is not your normal police dog - he's small, white and fluffy. He turned his back on a life of show rings and tiaras for the excitement and adventure of a life solving crime. Author Lesley Gibbes used her small dogs, Portia and Cosworth, for inspiration. When Lesley outlined the story-lines for each book, one worried child fan shouted out - 'please don't give away the ending!' Another was keen to know whether all the dogs were friends in the end!
Illustrator Stephen Michael King loves dogs too - and they clearly love him - one guest tried to jump onto his lap while he spoke (see photo). Stephen said he loves drawing scruffy dogs - perhaps because he's been a scruffy human most of his life! All of his 100 or so books have been dedicated to his dogs, and in one page in the Fizz series he included his current dogs (page open in photo below). Stephen said he doesn't 'think dog' when 'scribbling', but 'dog just appears!' (photo bottom right)
The first book in the series took Lesley six months to write and the first two books were written before being accepted for publication by Allen and Unwin, who then wanted two more books which Lesley had to write. Stephen's illustrations took about one month each book and have a 'film noir' influence with black chapter headings and contrasting black/white images with not a lot of grey.
This series owes its success to the collaboration of a lot of people, not just Lesley and Stephen: Stephen's wife, Trish worked with him on the design of the books, and the Allen and Unwin team refined it (editor showed Lesley that 'less is more when it comes to similes.') and brought it into being.
If I had a tail it would be wagging in delight at the fun and energetic antics of Fizz!
Read a review of Fizz and the police dog try outs here.
PS Like Lesley, I didn't have a well behaved dog to take to the launch (I have a cheeky dog) - but I did enter into the spirit of the launch with my accessories (ear rings):
PPS you can see my interview with Lesley on the Just Write For Kids blog. Follow it back from installment three here.