Welcome to the Poetry Friday Muster. That’s the Australian term for the American cattle round-up, and it seems appropriate, since I’m sharing my droving book that was published this week.
Look! A herd of cows.
There’s a bird in the herd that stalks as it walks, eating slugs and the bugs that the herd stirred. What else can you see as you follow the cheeky bird?
Bright and playful, this rollicking rhyming picture book with gorgeous sun-soaked illustrations will have little ones hootin’ and a-tootin’!
‘The Bird in the Herd‘ is the book of patience.
1) I wrote this story 19 years ago – and I blogged about this on release day. It didn’t actually change much during all that time – mostly tweaks to strengthen the rhyme. The title changed the most! Originally called ‘Muster Mayhem’, it was then called ‘No Cows’ for a number of years – before Linda Mitchell referred to it as ‘A Bird in the Herd’ in a blog comment last year … Funnily enough, about a month after that, my editor questioned ‘No Cows’, and suggested something like ‘A Bird in the Herd’. I cannot imagine why I didn’t think of it myself! But I’m so very grateful Linda and Clair did, because, with the slightest of tweaks, it’s perfect!
2) I met my illustrator, Renée Treml, 9 years ago, and she has been an absolute treasure to work with!
(Renée had just 3 days from when she read the manuscript to when the illustration competition closed – but she did it! “That’s how much I loved the story❤️,” she says.)
3) Whilst ‘The Bird in the Herd’ is technically my third published picture book (‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’ snuck out during December last year) it was in fact one of my first manuscripts, (written more than three years before ‘This is the Mud!’) – and my second picture book acceptance. It was in progress for 5 years. With COVID and potential shipping delays, we sent it to the printers early, so it’s already been in our hot little hands for 5 months!
Patience is a virtue – but it sure does age a body!😂 The book was written for these two little cuties (OK – there are definitely three cuties in that pic!) but alas, those adorable little farm boys only ever had the unillustrated version. This saddens me – but then I remember that, over the years, whenever I read it aloud during a zillion drafts (as you do, because, rhyme) it would draw my youngest from the furtherest reaches of the house, subtly steadily moving closer and closer, until he was pressed up beside me, because the rhythm of the rhyme would catch him every time. This story is woven into the fabric of our family. And one day, these two men might be reading this book to their own children. With pictures!
My friend Kirsty made a comment on Insta about the perseverance and passion invested in this book. I think they’re the two defining traits of a writer! Kirsty’s comment inspired this poem for today. (You will note the grasshopper, above, who also features on every page of the book.)
Renée has two rather adorable graphic novels that are available in America – with very clever titles! Look out for ‘Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery’ and its sequel, ‘Sherlock Bones and the Sea-Creature Feature’.
‘The Bird in the Herd’ is not yet published in America. I’m hoping it wings its way there so you can all see it for yourself. To say I love it is an understatement. It is glorious, from cover to cover. (Click to read some reactions.)
And now, over to you! What has your passion and perseverance produced this week? (Hands up if you’re sneaking in with a lamipofri.😹)
* This post was edited to include the book blurb.