At the end of 2014 I was working on a really exciting picture book project with Edinburgh Zoo. I was asked to create a picture book based on a real life character “Darren McGarry”. Darren is the head of the animals at Edinburgh Zoo and he has a very busy life amongst the animals and almost everything related to the animals at the zoo will involve him. The most amazing part of his life is he even lives in the zoo!
After a couple meetings with Darren I decided to write and illustrate a story about Darren’s daily life but with some funny twists. When I met Darren at Edinburgh Zoo he struck me as a person who really cares about and loves the animals. He is very respectful of the animals so he didn’t want to see the animals with any clothes or accessories on them and he doesn’t want to see the animals characterised either (for example he doesn’t want to see the animal talking and acting like a human. Instead, he hopes to see the animals acting normally in their normal environments).
So here is how the story goes. Darren woke up really tired and sleepy and no one knows why? He tried to find places in the zoo to have a nap but all the animals kept interrupting him. He isn’t angry or upset about this and so fulfils all the requests from the different animals and the reader will finally find out why he woke up still tired and sleepy in the morning.
It’s very tiring be a parent and sometimes even when you are so tired your child asks you for things and you still have to meet their demands. Darren made me feel like this with his animals. He loves and cares for them and needs to fulfil their needs and living in the zoo he will care for them no matter what the time or the outside conditions are. He will alway be there for the animals. Sometimes as parents we will feel a bit annoyed when we can’t just sit down quietly and have a cup of tea but no matter what we will still get up and look after our demanding child. I think this is the feeling I want to create for my story.
So below are some of the pages from my picture book. I hope you will like it.