This week it is my great pleasure to welcome author Jacqui Halpin back to the blog. In this interview, Jacqui talks with us about her recently published picture book Where’s Lucky, the story of an orphaned joey and his road to recovery and release.
We previously met Jacqui in 2018 when she discussed her first picture book Parmesan, the Reluctant Racehorse. As we talked with Jacqui in that interview about her writing process, today we focus our discussion on her new book Where’s Lucky?
Jacqui Halpin’s passion for children’s literature started when reading bedtime stories to her children. They outgrew their childhood books, but Jacqui never did. Jacqui writes picture books, junior fiction and middle grade fiction. Her short stories appear in anthologies by Stringybark Publishing, Creative Kids Tales, and The School Magazine.
Her first picture book, Parmesan, the Reluctant Racehorse, illustrated by John Phillips, was published by Little Pink Dog Books in October 2017.
Where’s Lucky?, illustrated by Sandra Severgnini and published in April 2019, is her second picture book with Little Pink Dog Books.
While writing and editing, Jacqui loves to sip tea from fine china and eat copious amounts of chocolate. She also has a love of bookshops and should never be allowed to enter the children’s book section with a credit card in her possession.
Lucky, the orphaned swamp wallaby, has a knack for getting into mischief at the wildlife rescue shelter where he lives.
While Theresa and Tony care for him, and their mob of other joeys, Lucky gets into lots of places he should not be. Until, on the day of his release, he is just where he should be, hopping free in the bush.
Where’s Lucky is an amusing tale about the delights and difficulties of caring for orphaned joeys. A percentage of the income from this book will be donated to Our Haven Wildlife Shelter, where the book is set.
Welcome, to readilearn, Jacqui. We are looking forward to finding out about your new picture book Where’s Lucky?
Thanks for inviting me.
Jacqui, what gave you the idea for Where’s Lucky?
I saw a video post on Facebook from Our Haven Wildlife Shelter showing them bottle feeding all these adorable little joeys in what looked like their family kitchen and I thought, there has to be a picture book here somewhere.
Why did you think it was important to tell the story?
I wanted Where’s Lucky? to bring awareness of the hard work wildlife carers do, and how important it is. I wanted to educate children and adults about ways in which they can help protect our wildlife. I also wanted to help Our Haven Wildlife Shelter with the amazing work they do. My lovely publishers, being animal lovers themselves, were on board with this as well, and a percentage of the income from the sales of Where’s Lucky? will be donated to Our Haven Wildlife Shelter. Sandra and I both make personal donations to them as well. Every bit helps!
Are Tony and Theresa real people?
Yes, they are! They run Our Haven Wildlife Shelter in their suburban backyard in a small coastal town in Victoria. Sandra and I visited them at Our Haven in 2017. When I read my manuscript out to Theresa and Tony to make sure it met with their approval, they were delighted with it! They told me recently that when they first read their copy of the book, they shed tears of joy which was so touching and uplifting to hear.
What do you like best about Where’s Lucky?
I love the fun aspect of it and that it is telling a true story in an entertaining and engaging way. Lucky is so cute and such a character!
Do you like the way Sandra Severgnini has illustrated your story?
I absolutely love Sandra’s illustrations and what she has added to the story by the way she has drawn them!
Sandra’s illustrations tell part of the story that isn’t told in your words. Did you tell her what to draw or did she decide what parts to add?
I had quite a few illustration notes to start with, but Sandra had a lot of inspiration from our visit to Our Haven as well. It was her idea to have Lucky mostly hidden on the ‘Where’s Lucky?’ pages, which I love!
How did you feel when you wrote Where’s Lucky?
When I first came to write the manuscript, I was stressing so much because I knew there was a story there but I just couldn’t seem to find it. All I had in the first few drafts was a lot of facts about what Theresa and Tony did but no actual story. Then Theresa posted a video of Lucky hiding under the covers in her bed and I thought, there’s my story, Where’s Lucky?! After that it became a lot more fun to write.
How do you hope readers will feel?
I hope readers will feel a sense of fun and exhilaration over Lucky’s antics and eventual freedom. I also hope they will gain a knowledge and understanding of how important it is to care for our wildlife. And have a deeper respect for the professional carers who do.
How would you like teachers to present Where’s Lucky? to children?
As a fun, entertaining story based on a real little joey called Lucky at a real wildlife shelter called Our Haven. Lucky is such a rascal and I’m sure the children will pick that up from the start and instantly like him.
Are there any messages you would like them to discuss?
Where’s Lucky is the perfect book to use to help foster an empathy for animals and show children we should treat our wildlife with care and respect. It shows the impact humans are having on our native animals and how we should be doing our best to minimise that impact.
At the back of the book, you provide information about wildlife carers and what to do if you find injured wildlife. Why did you include this information in a book for children?
Adults read picture books to children. By adding these information pages, adults as well as children learn what to do to help an animal in need should the situation arise. Plus, they’re made aware of how to minimise the risk of injuring those animals in the first place.
Jacqui, thank you for popping over to talk with us about your delightful new picture book Where’s Lucky? I’m certain Lucky will win many hearts all over the world. I wish you and Lucky success.
Find out more about Jacqui on her website: jacquihalpin.com
or connect with her on social media:
Facebook: Jacqui Halpin Author
Where’s Lucky? is distributed by Exisle Publishing. It can be purchased from most online bookstores, or from all good bookshops. (If your local bookshop doesn’t have it in stock, please ask them to order it in.) For signed copies, please contact Jacqui at firstname.lastname@example.org
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