Tatyana Feeney is author and illustrator of a brilliant series of books that tackle everyday toddler troubles. From losing a favourite blanket (Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket) to likes and dislikes (Little Owl’s Orange Scarf), her simple story and minimalist artwork speaks volumes. Where did the idea for her new book Little Frog’s Tadpole Trouble which deals with a new baby in the family come from?
I have quite a young family still – my oldest is seven, so inspiration for stories about young children is fairly abundant in my daily life!
Little Frog’s Tadpole Trouble, which is my latest book, developed from having my own children and seeing the effect of a new sibling on the first child. I am sure there are some children who are delighted with new children arriving in the family, but many feel threatened or upset by the change in the family dynamic. My intention, by having nine new brothers and sisters was just an exaggeration of how the change feels to the first child. Of course, most families don’t go from one to ten overnight – but it could feel that way when a new baby arrives…
A regret I have is that I didn’t make Mommy and Daddy look a bit more stressed once the tadpoles arrived – they are quite relaxed for parents of 10!
When I start working on a new story, drawing the characters (a lot!), is the best way for me to get to know them. I think about what they might do, or wear, what they like, what they DO NOT like. I need to know lots of things about their personality to help get the story started. I have a few samples of drawings I did when I was working on Little Frog’s Tadpole Trouble. Some of the pictures are just Little Frog doing things he likes, including listening to music and trying gymnastics. Not all of these ultimately went into the book, but they still give me an idea of who he is.
I have included a few other sketches. One is Little Frog running away from home…
(well, to under the kitchen table) when he heard about the new siblings.
There are also some ideas of things he could do with the tadpoles once they got a bit bigger.
It is always nice to play around with the characters like this, even when not all of the ideas make it into the finished book – it seems to give them more personality somehow.
Little Frog’s Tadpole Trouble is out now.
Tatyana Feeney grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She studied History of Art at the University of North Carolina and Design at the Art Institute of Atlanta before getting a BA in Illustration for Children’s Publishing from NEWI in Wales.
She has illustrated several books with Irish publishers, including 3 in the Irish language. She has also done illustrations for websites and cards.
She lives in Trim, County Meath with her husband, two children and small dog.