When GORILLA DREAMS was published I invited children in fourteen local schools to use their imaginations and ask themselves what gorillas might dream of doing or being. They could show me in an artwork, poem, story or dance – and they did! Illustrator Mary Casserley and I were amazed by their creativity and commitment. Some clearly spent hours creating their entries – patiently and skilfully – and the delight shone through. I wonder what adults would find to say if you asked them what gorillas might dream about.
I’ve been wearing a gorilla mask a lot lately – in Waterstone’s, at shows and in school halls. And this morning in my living room, to see how practical it is to do an on-the-spot gorilla dance without falling on my large rubbery nostrils. The GORILLA DREAMS promo tour has been crazy, hectic fun, and with a competition encouraging kids to be creative, it’s not over yet.
I haven’t created animal characters before – unless you count Oops the ongalong and Nimmo the mobe along with a small dragon called Mayerling (“Maya, Maya, can’t breathe fire!”). They’re complete fantasy; sometimes reality and magic intersect. Of course I did research on gorillas.
Did you know a male gorilla has an arm span of up to 2.6 metres?!! They have unique fingerprints like us and they’re desperately endangered. It was all really fascinating background but I knew my gorillas at gorilla school would be at least a little like kids. So there’s Gertie the Scrabble champion who uses long words like finesse but doesn’t actually have any.