The Snatchabook's author, Helen Docherty, has graciously accepted an offer to answer a few questions.
Lisa: The Snatchabook has put me in a lighthearted mood, so here are a few lighthearted questions!
Snatchabook is such a cute name. Was it the seed that started the story, or did it grow from the story?
Helen: The idea of a book thief came to me first, and it was while I was trying to find the right name for him that the character and the story started to form in my mind. At first I wasn’t sure what he would be like, or what to call him, so I played around with names; the book cruncher? The book snatcher? These seemed to suggest quite a menacing character, which wasn’t at all what I wanted, so I tried inverting the words - and that’s when the Snatchabook was born. As soon as I had named him, an image started to form in my mind of a pitiful, lonely little creature who just needs someone to read to him – hence his desire to steal books, which symbolize to him the joy and warmth of sharing a story at bedtime. So I guess you could say that the name and the story came together.
Lisa: Helen, did you leave Thomas (Docherty) alone to illustrate the story as he imagined it, or could you not resist giving suggestions? (I know that I would have a hard time resisting!)
Helen: To be honest, it would have been impossible to resist, given that we see each other all the time (or at least that’s my excuse)! Actually Tom was more than happy to discuss the development of the characters and the setting with me – it was a very collaborative process, and we had lots of fun discussing how the Snatchabook and Eliza would look. Of course, he added many visual details that I could never have dreamed up, all of which greatly enhance the story. He always asks me for feedback at every stage of the illustration process, just as I read him my stories and seek his advice. It’s great to have a critical eye / ear available around the clock!
Lisa: What were your favorite bedtime stories when you were young?
Helen: There are too many to choose from! Some of my best early memories are of being read the Winnie the Pooh stories and being convulsed with laughter. I also loved a series about a panda pajama case called Ponder, the My Naughty Little Sister stories and a Norwegian series by Anne-Cath Vestly about a little girl called Aurora and her family. Favorite picture books included The Bear’s Winter House (by John Yeoman and Quentin Blake), The Giant Jam Sandwich (by John Vernon Lord and Janet Burroway) and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. I was a huge fan of Russell Hoban’s Frances books, too. Luckily, I managed to hang on to most of my favorite books from childhood, and it now gives me enormous pleasure to read them to my own kids. I hope I can keep doing that for as long as possible.
|(The Snatchabook has apparently snatched all of Helen's favorites!)|
Lisa: How wonderful will it be when your children can read The Snatchabook to their children? You don't have to answer that one. I think I can imagine!
Helen: Our five year old daughter Lucia read it to us the other day – or rather, to the gorgeous Snatchabook puppet that Pippa Curnick at Alison Green Books (our UK publishers) made for us. Lucia is just learning to read, but she knows the words almost off by heart. So that was a very special experience indeed!
Lisa: Such a fun story. I can't wait to try it out in story time at the library! Thanks so much for the opportunity to chat with you,
Visit The Snatchabook's website to snatch up an Educator's Guide and Activity Kit.
My copies of the Snatchabook were provided at my request by NetGalley and Sourcebooks.