This story came about while I was watching crabs on a rock. There's something very human about the way they move. They stop and go, and run or crouch down when they are frightened. Their eyes follow you on stalks and their claws seem a lot like hands. They were ambling around and eating seaweed here and there but the waves below them were huge. Each time a big wave neared there was a huge roar and they all froze in unison. When it was about to hit they all hunkered down to brace for impact. Each time the froth cleared they resumed what they were doing. They seemed to have noticeable personalities, eager ones and nervous ones. Their reactions made the scene like a kind of wordless comedy so I thought it all might work quite well as a picture book.

The thing I like most about picture books is the drama of turning the page. I’ve tried to utilise this in all my books. In this book I really like the idea that the page itself acts like a wave. On one side of the page is a breaking wave just before impact and on the reverse it has crashed onto the rocks. That way, the action of turning of the pages of the book is like waves crashing onto the shore. That was the idea anyway.

The story is always the more difficult part for me. My original idea was to have two crabs who get caught in a storm. One is a worrier and the other is more relaxed. The waves get bigger and bigger and eventually they are swept into the sea… much to the worried crab’s surprise it all turns out fine.

My editor, Deidre thought it was better that rather than have the sea come to the crabs that the crabs should go to the sea. I was very reluctant to change this because it seemed less dramatic to intentionally go in the sea than be swept in. But as I worked at it i realised that she was right. The story became less simple but in the end much stronger. It’s much more satisfying to read and reread if the main character has more agency.

This sketch was done from memory after a dive.

The comparison between the smallness of a little pool and the vastness of the sea is one that is often used in language. Visually, I wanted to make the most of this contrast. I tried to use colour to show this. The rock pool is colourful and warm and cosy and makes a contrast to the rocks and waves. From outside the sea appears to be dark and monochromatic and uninviting, but once under the waves the sea opens to a whole world of colour. I think very young children react very instinctively to colour and visuals. It might not be immediately obvious to adults as we are distracted by language and other layers of meaning but if you were to read a book without language I think we are more able to see more how the youngest children see it.

I would like to think that all my books can be read without any language. The words only compliment the images. It is the images that tell the story.

I made the crab’s eyes yellow because there are many scenes where there needs to be white foam splashing the crabs and the whiteness of their eyes would get lost. The most important part of these sequences are the eyes so they need to be immediately obvious on the page or the page turn effect is lost.

I chose a quote by Anaïs Nin “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage”

Please take a look out for it in your local bookstores.
I hope you like it.

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