We had the pleasure with children’s author and loving dog owner Bunny Hargreaves about her charming and educational book, Curly Tales. The book sees pug twins Ethel and Ernie travelling around the world, discovering what’s unique about each country.

 

The book is available here.

 

Ethel and Ernie are inspired by your incredibly sweet and cuddly pugs. Why did you wish to write about them and create a children's book?

Curly Tales was indeed inspired by my own pugs, I think pugs are extremely appealing to young children as they are small, round, big eyed, charismatic, funny, and just a little naughty and of course have very curly tails! I thought the combination of using Ethel and Ernie as the subject matter in a book which was subliminally educational but fun and would be slightly different to the general children’s books available. Each book will be loosely based on the national educational curriculum with subjects like Maths, English, History, Biology, Science, Food and Nutrition, Ecology, RE but all discreetly educational, there are so many more subjects like birds of the UK, animals of the UK, sea creatures, life skills, people skills, manners, the list is endless. Holiday is the first book and is obviously based on Geography (you will note that each picture has a flag of that country hidden somewhere).

 

Together, your pugs travel the world. Are these adventures inspired by your own, or by your love of all these places?

The inspiration for Holiday was entirely because I wanted to cover Geography as a subject, and this was the easiest way of writing about many countries aimed at young children and hopefully making a visual connection with a country. Tigers are in India, Elephants are in Africa, you can be a snowboarder in Andorra (I have been skiing here). These will all be memorable.

 

The illustrations in Curly Tales are delightful, drawn by Edward Blyth. How was collaborating with him to bring your words to life?

After many attempts at trying to find the right illustrator, I decided that perhaps giving an unknown, unpublished, art student the opportunity to join in the adventure which was Curly Tales. I sent out an advert to each of the local colleges who had an art department. Luckily, Edward Blyth, a student at Stroud Art College, responded saying that he wanted to be an illustrator of children’s books. Edward did some drawings interpreting my words into Edward drawings. He is a fantastic artist, he draws each picture as an original and does not use computers or vectras, so each picture is unique and delightfully old fashioned. When I met with Edward and his mother it was obvious that Edward is on the Autistic spectrum, but his Neurodivergent Superpower is drawing. I know that this will launch Edwards career, but I hope he will remember that Ethel and Ernie discovered him, and I know that he now wants to do another book about the Pugs in Space, Edward style!

 

Your book is written in rhyming prose. Was this at all difficult to compose? Please do disclose.

I have absolutely no idea where the rhyming prose sprung from, I just sat down to write the first book and it popped out - it was in fact about Christmas and the pugs leaving their gifts of a poo and a pee under the tree! After that it just seem to come out as rhyming, I don't think I will be winning any prizes soon as the Poet Laureate!

 

We hope to see Ethel and Ernie again one day. Is this something you are planning to do?

My ambition has always been to make the Curly Tales brand, with Ethel and Ernie as the stars, as big or even bigger than The Mr Men or Peppa Pig with lots of little books, relatively inexpensive, with an educational twist, which can be given as gifts and build whole sets, I have even invented a Curly Tales book stand with Ethel one side and Ernie the other side. I see Curly Tales as being an excellent CBeebies TV series and a huge range of toys and games and maybe even a Curly Theme Park, now that would be fun!!

 

I would like to add that one of the most important elements of Curly Tales is that is linked to the Charity "Read for Good" which takes books into the 30 major Childrens Hospitals and reads stories to them, as well as schools and encourages children to love reading. A percentage of each book sold will be donated to this charity https://readforgood.org.