Things have been busy at the Jimatorium (that’s my desk). Since my last post, I have published a pile of picture books and started working on a young adult novel. You may have seen these picture books pop up on Amazon in the last little while.
I really enjoyed writing and illustrating Just Call Me Drew, in which I explored the idea of bringing a child into the world without conforming to the convention of labeling them with a gender. This idea was shared with me by a new friend. At first I didn’t really understand the benefit of such an approach. So I did some research. Actually, a lot of research. As my understanding grew, I discovered the merits of such an approach. Sure, it may take some getting used to, but there are so many labels in today’s world that cause conflict and separation. Maybe removing the labels can help develop broader mindsets, avoid stereotypes, bring us closer together, and prevent the separation that occurs when we distinguish us and them. But I believe most things can be approached with good humour. So, I created this book with a touch of satire. I hope you and your children and students enjoy it.
I wrote the draft of Help Me Hammer at around 2am in the middle of a two-day school author visit. On the first day, I asked the kids if it was possible to make a story out of anything at all. Some said yes, while others said a definitive no, which I expected. But I didn’t anticipate the dynamic discussion between the kids about various topics, including one child saying, “What if it’s boring. Like, a circle. You can’t write a story about that because a circle doesn’t do anything.” Challenge accepted. My mind was racing that night and I just could not sleep. So I got up, wrote the draft and went back to bed. When I shared the story with the kids the next day, they were spellbound. After that experience, I had to make it into a book. I refined the narrative and draw the pictures. In the end, I simplified the story to include only two to five words per page, and let the pictures do a lot of the grunt work. In this way, I designed it to appeal to a younger audience. It contains various shapes, block colours, wants, needs, struggle, strong-willed characters, and – lo and behold – a story.