This book launches in 2 days, on May 19th!
When Thomas finds a talking turtle in his yard, he’s amazed and surprised—especially when the turtle insists, “I’m not a turtle. I’m a tiger!” After a visit to the zoo and a fun chase, the turtle—or is it a tiger?—discovers an important truth and makes a fast friend.
Storyteller Jonathan Gould crafts a humorous and heartwarming tale about friendship, acceptance and self-esteem, colorfully illustrated by John Cardinal.
Author Jonathan Gould has dropped by to talk a little bit about his writing of Thomas and the Tiger-Turtle. This is the first of what we hope will be many children’s picture books by Jonathan, providing a fun lesson for kids about the importance of friendship and self-esteem. Anyway, we’ll let Jonathan tell you how this entertaining book came to be.
Turning a Turtle into a Tiger – or Vice Versa
I’m really excited to be writing this post today. The release of my first picture book is a special occasion for me, and I’d like to send a huge thank you to everyone on the Evolved Publishing team for making it possible.
What was my inspiration for Thomas and the Tiger-Turtle? Where did the idea come from? Was it possibly modelled from life? Did I actually walk out the back door one day to discover a spectacularly colourful turtle nibbling at the grass in my yard?
The truth is, the story isn’t quite a reflection on real-life occurrences (although I do at times see spectacularly colourful creatures when I walk out the door—but that’s another story). The idea actually emerged from a little story idea game I like to play.
Generating story ideas is always a bit of a challenge. How do you come up with that brilliant idea that nobody else has ever thought of before? Especially in such a crowded field as picture books? That’s where my game can be really handy.
It’s a very simple game. All you need to do is write down a title—any title. You don’t have to have the slightest idea what the story is about. You just think of a combination of words that seem to fit nicely together, that catches in your mind and rolls off the tongue. I tend to go for alliteration, but that’s a personal preference. Once I get rolling, I can usually reel them out quite quickly, often doing ten or twenty at a time.
Once I’ve written down a bunch of prospective titles, I like to put them away for a while and come back to them later. I usually find that most of them are just random collections of words and nothing more. But every so often, there’s one that will catch my eye, and I’ll think I can do something with it. Thomas and the Tiger-Turtle was definitely one of these.
The next stage is to try to figure out how the title can be converted into a story. I’ll look closely at the words I’ve chosen, particularly those that pertain to character. What on earth is a Tiger-Turtle? What does it look like? What does it want to do, or to be? And who is Thomas, and how is he involved? Gradually, as these questions spin around in my mind, a story begins to emerge. A turtle that is convinced it’s a tiger, and a little boy who is convinced it’s his mission to make the turtle realise its true identity—now there’s a story.
Seeing the characters come to life under the brush of an illustrator has been just as much fun. I’m not a particularly visual person—I’m much more focussed on the word side of things. So seeing Thomas and his friend the turtle appear on the page has been an amazing experience. I’m really indebted to John Cardinal for his lovely, colourful illustrations.
So that, in a nutshell (Or should I say turtle-shell?) is how Thomas and the Tiger-Turtle came to be. I hope you enjoy it, and if you should ever see a turtle with a brightly-coloured shell, think about what you say to it. Turtle feelings are important too.