Instagram is an amazing source in my opinion. Since I started The Star Whisperer, nearly a year and a half ago, I’ve discovered some of the cutest brands, most fabulous people and interesting small businesses, often run by other mamas.
One of these small businesses I was so lucky to come across is DOODLES AND SCRIBBLES book: “Parrots don’t live in the city”.
Tell me about yourselves. What were you doing pre the author journey?
Hello! We are Lucy Reynolds (author) and Jenna Herman (illustrator), aka Doodles & Scribbles. We met at Oxford University almost 18 years ago, where Lucy was studying Poetry and English Literature, and Jenna Fine Art. Since then, we’ve been great friends for many years, and have always promised ourselves we’d create a beautiful children’s book together. After university, we both pursued mainstream careers – Lucy as a management consultant and community project manager; and Jenna produced photoshoots for magazines. But in our hearts we always felt children’s books calling. Lucy grew up on a remote farm, free to roam in wild countryside and spend her childhood collecting flowers, spotting birds, hunting for fossils, building dens; Jenna grew up in a little house where she used to photograph and draw her pets, and flowers in the garden. As adults, we both ended up living in London, but kept noticing just how much wildlife and nature course through the veins of the city, and wanted to capture this sense of the wonder and excitement that nature can bring, through our love of words and pictures.
How did you come up with the idea of writing and illustrating a book?
Midway through Jenna’s maternity leave, we met for breakfast in a lovely sunny café in Wimbledon. We were just chatting about life in general, when Lucy mentioned that she’d drafted a new set of poems, all about nature in the city. Then serendipity stepped in! Jenna had recently dusted off her art pencils and was looking for an opportunity be more artistic. So a light bulb went off for both of us – Lucy showed Jenna her draft poems; Jenna said she’d love to illustrate them; and Doodles & Scribbles was born!
Parrots – tell me more about this lovely bird and what inspired you to write a whole book about them?
It all started with a moment of disbelief! Lucy saw a streak and a shriek of bright emerald green through the grey London sky and was sure it must’ve been a parrot – but her friend wouldn’t look or believe her. Then a few weeks later, she found a beautiful viridian feather, shining like a jewel amid the dusty city leaves, and the idea for the stories was planted. We wanted to capture the magic of that first moment of discovery, and in doing so we’ve tapped into a national (and international) fascination with these bolshy, brilliant interlopers! The ring-necked parakeet is our fastest growing bird population – they’re colonising towns and cities up and down the country, from Scotland right down to Cornwall, and are also spotted in up to 35 countries across five continents where they wouldn’t naturally be found. How did they get here? Where did they come from? Why do they stay? Well, you’ll have to take a peek inside our book to discover some of the answers, and join the army of little enthusiasts who are now out scanning the skies and learning all about nature as they seek a flash of brilliant green through the leaves…
What’s been the biggest high and the biggest low in this journey?
This has been an incredible journey for us, with so many ups, downs, twists and turns along the way. We are still pinching ourselves that just six months after our first book went on sale, we’re now stocked nationally in Waterstones and through the best independent book shops and toy stores, and are so thrilled with the amazing feedback we keep receiving. But two particular highs stand out – seeing our book sitting proudly in a bookshop window for the very first time; and hearing news that we were on the central display table in the children’s section at King’s Road Waterstones – goose-bump moments for two self-published mums!
In terms of lows, these usually relate to our two little roadies, Ralph and Jack. This book has been created and woven around the arrival of our baby boys, and they have been with us for so many of our early school readings, bookshop visits, publisher meetings, festival events. But being tiny as they are, this hasn’t always been the smoothest of arrangements. One particular low involved a very poorly Jack being violently sick just as we were due to begin a beautiful and extremely well attended promotional event with the Star Whisperer (sorry Erica!). Another involved projectile emissions from a very colicky baby Ralph all over the legs and coffee cup of one very tolerant editor. Together, they have cried, wriggled, puked, tugged, insisted on sitting on our laps, refused to nap at nap times, bounced about, crawled around and generally created commotion through many of our big moments – the list goes on while the theme remains the same – babies and meetings don’t mix! But we’re glad beyond words that they were there with us for this journey – albeit we’ve now respectfully requested that they no longer accompany us on tour!
Are you allowed to tell me about your next book? And when will it be out?
Yes! We have several other exciting projects in the pipeline at the moment, including discussions with a wonderful children’s publisher about a few very lovely related titles. On top of this, we’re working on the next book from our ‘In The City’ series, which is all about hedgehogs. Picture beautiful flurries of autumnal leaves, prickly horse chestnuts, and a spiky surprise…We’re getting very excited about it as it begins to come to life on the page.
HEAD OVER TO MY INSTAGRAM PAGE NOW TO WIN A SIGNED COPY!!!