Annika Dunklee is the author of the new children's picture book Eee-Moo!. Her other books include My Name is Elizabeth! and Me, Too!. She lives in Toronto.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Eee-Moo!?
A: I have always loved playing around with words in my head.
One day I was walking through the High Park Zoo where there are emus. I took the word emu apart and came up with eee and moo (nothing fancy), and further thought a pig could squeal “Eee!” and a cow, of course, could say “Moo!”.
This led me to think: what if an egg showed up on a farm, and when it cracked open, whatever popped out would suffer from a case of mistaken identity, and ta da! – Eee-Moo! was born.
Eee-Moo travelling by all the modes of transportation was based on my own experiences as a child, travelling from Toronto to my grandparent’s cottage, on the island of Koster, in Sweden.
It took 24 hours, door to door, to get there, and I travelled by cab, plane, train, bus, ferry and moped to get there (no rickshaw, kangaroo, kookaburra or koala, however).
Q: Why did you choose a platypus as the main character?
A: I decided that a platypus should be the lead character in the story for a few reasons: they are from Australia (I wanted the little guy coming from very far away), they are adorable, and who doesn’t love a platypus!
Q: What do you think Brian Won’s illustrations add to the book?
A: When I write stories, I always include suggestions throughout, of what I envision the illustrations to look like. Brian not only took those suggestions, he took them to a whole other level! I was speechless when I saw his finals – such artistry!
My simple text juxtaposed with Brian's elaborate artwork makes the story work all that much more – it makes it funnier! The book wouldn’t be as beautiful or wonderful, if not for Brian’s illustrations.
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story?
A: Most of my books are meant to make kids laugh and feel happy. Although the message of Eee-Moo! is about finding “home,” and that home is where your family and friends are, and inclusivity to some extent, I just really want kids to enjoy the whole experience of Eee-Moo’s journey, from start to finish.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am always working on many titles at a time, but some stories I shelve when I get frustrated with them, and think maybe some time away, will help me see them with fresh, more loving, eyes.
The one story I just finished writing is Martha: The Not Quite Perfect Unicorn (title not set in stone). The story is about a unicorn who was born with a horn which was not quite perfect, and is set in Scotland.
The manuscript is currently sitting with a couple of publishers.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: My next book coming out is William’s Getaway, with Owlkids, in March 2020.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb