January 23, 2013

Boo to a goose

Illustrated by David Miller

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When I find it, I will post a photo here of me at drama school. It was the sixties and I recall my skirt being VERY short. The photo was taken on the lawns beside the lake where the geese were, who said ‘Boo!’ to me. So, anyway, that’s where the idea came from….]

I’d dance with a pig in a shiny green wig, but I wouldn’t say boo to a goose! I’d ride on a ‘roo to Kalamazoo, but I wouldn’t say boo to a goose!
 I’d jump from a mountain right into a fountain, but…”

In Australia and in England, and I presume in the other countries of the ex-British Empire, we have this expression to describe a timid person: ‘Oh, she wouldn’t say boo to a goose!’ I believe it’s not known in the USA, which is why I’m explaining it here…..

I can’t remember whom I was talking about, but years ago I said of someone: ‘Oh, she wouldn’t say boo to a goose!’ and realized it had a sort of story-book ring to it, a bounce, the potential for fun and repetition. I went overboard on the repetition. The text, beloved of very young children, is calculated to drive parents round the bend.

I wrote it specifically for very young children because in Australia, in the late nineties, the picture book was drifting into upper age levels and few writers seemed to be remembering that picture books were primarily for little kids. Without picture books little kids have nothing to read, whereas older kids have vast choices in their reading material. There was a yawning gap in the market for a return to the so-called ‘real’ picture book. Boo to a Goose filled it with an amazing 36,000 hardback copies sold in its first year.

As the writer of Boo to a Goose I have to acknowledge that the sales of this book are to a great extent due to its brilliant, innovative, 3D paper cut-out illustrations which are perfect for the age group of four and under. I could kiss David Miller’s feet. One, then another and then another publisher accepted the text, none of whom could find a suitable illustrator. It was ten years before the illustrated text finally hit the bookshelves—thanks to HodderHeadline in Sydney. Boo to a Goose was published in the USA in spring 1998 by Dell. It’s still in print (2013) in both countries.

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