So, the dust is settling after the crazy whirl that is Bologna, and we are just catching our breath again. Phew. There have been months and months of preparation and excitement, working with our amazing authors and artists to create the best sales material possible, and then, of course, there’s the fair itself with our rights team selling books across four days with 160 appointments, and the editors and designers running from one agent meeting to another. Blimey. Even just thinking about it is exhausting – it’s a tough time to be an editor! It’s also, if I may be honest, a tough time to be a working mum – my little chick at home often brings out the wobbly lower lip if I’m late. “Where HAVE you been?” he will say, in a dramatically forlorn fashion. Sigh. Luckily, in my line of work, there’s always an amazing book to come to the rescue . . .
The week before Bologna, I was heading home late and knew there would be just enough time for a quick bedtime kiss for the chick. I suspected the wobbly lip might make an appearance, so, as I ran out of the Crow’s nest, I popped Nuts In Space by Elys Dolan in my bag. “Aha!” I thought. “I am the PERFECT mother!” (If only.) But no, actually it is Elys who is the perfect one around here because NUTS IN SPACE was totally transformative. It saved my bacon. It was 9pm by the time I got home and the chick was still awake, and the lip was a-wobbling. Like a magician, I flourished Nuts In Space . . . and it was if the wobble had never been. “Is that by the lady who wrote Weasels?” he demanded, springing out of bed and launching himself at me. I was hoping for a hug but… no. I was merely side-swiped as he grabbed the book and settled into his favourite reading position – lying on the rug on his stomach, propped up by his elbows. And so it was for the next hour. He pored over every single detail, he read it aloud, he laughed out-loud, he picked up his copy of Weasels to compare notes, he commented on every single Star Wars reference (he is a BIG fan), hollered to his dad to come and look, shifted his position and then started all over again.
It was 10pm by the time I managed to persuade him into bed. He had read the book five times, inside out and back to front (there is a LOT going on) and, even then, I noticed that he had sneaked his light back in for one more read. It was a school night but what the heck – look what a book can do!
The final triumphant accolade came on Sunday. There had been much concentrated effort in the creation of a not-so-secret Mother’s Day card but the sign off nearly made me cry. After the 38 kisses at the bottom of the card (he thoughtfully does one for each year of my age . . . nice) he paid brilliant homage to Nuts in Space. On the opening spread, there is a glorious prologue (designed like the opening sequence in Star Wars . . . in a galaxy far far away etc etc) and, at the bottom of the page, are two green aliens. One comments, “Oh look, floating words.” and his neighbour replies, “That’s different.” (click below to see an enlarged version). At the bottom of my Mother’s Day card, Rafe drew two aliens. One comments, “Oh look, floating kisses.” And the neighbour replies, “That is definitely different.”
I love picture books. And thank you, Elys, for making one lip-wibbly boy extremely happy.
Nuts in Space is out now! You can buy the book online here, and take a look inside below.