errol book development

New ERROL book acquisition!

I was reading one of those unappealing digitally created ‘Find the something in the somewhere’ book with Rosie (who adores that book, by the way), when a completely random thought flashed across my brain. A thought that fit in very well with Errol, my soon to be released overweight penguin character.

I aired the idea with the kids, a friend, a husband, and generally got the OK. They laughed. That’s what I was hoping for.

So, I started mocking up the idea. Like most of my picture book ideas, it emerged slowly over a few sessions with my notebook. Unlike most of my picture book ideas, I developed ERROL as a storyboard of sketches. I am not an artist, as such, though I like to draw. But somehow, Errol, and his humorous antics, come to life very well in sketches.

I spent some quality working hours developing the idea into something more substantial, turning doodles into an impressive (ahem) PDF document, and submitted to Scholastic.

The Scholastic team, and ERROL’s illustrator Philip Bunting replied with a resounding YES! So ERROL II will be coming out in 2019. Very exciting stuff.

I love working with characters over more than one book. A character like Errol, and his mum, seem very real (even though they are overweight walking talking penguins), and have a lot of potential. What did I hear recently? A character is not a character until they’ve got a decision to make? Well, Errol and his mum have pretty unique responses to decisions. And I guess that’s what excites me.

The ERROL concept is very sparse. Few words. Lots of action. A helluva lot of space. Like Mo Willems says, space allows the readers to put themselves into the story. They have to piece it together. And the more work they do, the more invested they are in the story.

mo willems minamalist

Anyway, you’ll get to meet Errol next year, when the first book is released.

Meanwhile, clever Philip Bunting is going around being nominated for Kate Greenaways and stuff like that. Can’t fault the guy! So lucky to work with him, as his career takes off. I got to see the final artwork for the first ERROL book the other day, and it is sublime!

2 Comments
  • Amelia McInerney

    November 23, 2017 at 5:37 am Reply

    Congrats on Errol II, Zanni! It was so interesting to read about how your idea developed.
    PS Philip Bunting is also doing one of my picture books, and I’m as excited as you!

    • zanni

      November 30, 2017 at 11:17 pm Reply

      Oh that’s so great! What is your book called? He must be very busy!

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