Fiona Barker – Guest Post

dannyandthedreamdogI LOVE reading the dedication pages of a favourite novel, don’t you? It’s like an extra treat after the story has finished, even better when it tells a little about the author’s journey to publication. But within the limited space of a picture book, there’s really not much room to say anything other than a very succinct thanks to one or two people. Picture book writer Fiona Barker had the same problem – thankfully My Book Corner has stepped in to help solve the dilemma. So stick the kettle on and dive into Fiona’s dedication page for her and Howard Gray’s picture book, Danny and the Dream Dog

When I read middle grade, YA or adult fiction I always like to read the acknowledgement pages. It’s good to give you a feel for who’s who in the industry and it also opens your eyes as to how many people it takes to make a book. Sadly, the opportunities for acknowledgements in picture books are usually limited to a brief mention of a name as a dedication or, if you are lucky, a bit of blurb on the inside flap of the dust jacket of the hardback release.

So, I thought I’d take this opportunity, in the manner of an Oscar acceptance speech, to let you know how many people were involved in the making of Danny and the Dream Dog. So, in vaguely chronological order, I need to thank my SCBWI critique group who were in on the early stages of drafting Danny. In 2016 I also met Sophy Henn at Picture Book Club and she gave me huge encouragement to keep going. Then two professional editors, Gordon Volke and Lou Treleaven, and book designer, Carolyn Gibson, knocked Danny into a bit more of a commercial shape. The advice from Lou was especially helpful resulting in the renaming of a main character! I got more feedback from the Friday night critique group at the SCBWI conference in 2016 including facilitator, Clare Juliet Bell. That’s where I met Howard Gray, who was also in my group having written an excellent tale of piratical naughtiness. A look at his illustration portfolio later confirmed he was quite good at drawing.

Howard agreed to illustrate Danny at a time when I was still thinking I might end up self-publishing. But I continued to submit the story to editors and agents. Anyone I thought could give me feedback to improve it. I owe a huge debt to everyone who saw an early draft and took the time to comment and give encouragement. Special thanks must go to Anna McQuinn of Alanna Books who gave me some really valuable industry insider tips which really helped when submitting. Next, I obviously have to thank the team at Tiny Tree Children’s Books who agreed to publish Danny and also keep Howard on as the illustrator. They have been amazing!

CinnamontrustlogoI also wanted to use Danny to promote The Cinnamon Trust, a brilliant charity working to keep people and pets together. They had never worked on a project like this but have been very supportive. And I’m just going to mention Howard again because his wonderful, thoughtful illustrations have brought Danny to life. When people see our book, what they see are his pictures. They are what make them pick it up and think about reading it. They will only get to my words through his pictures.

So that’s a lot of people directly involved with this single, simple story. That’s before I start blubbing and get to all my family and friends and everyone who knows me.

To finish I’d like to explain the dedication in the front of Danny. While making this book, I said goodbye to my Mum and Howard said hello to his daughter. My Mum believed in the story from the start and hopefully, Rowan will come to believe in it as she grows up. As one chapter ends, another begins. So, Danny is dedicated to Nan and Rowan. And all the people in between.FionaDedication

Thanks, Fiona!

Danny and The Dream Dog is a charming tale, about a young boy called Danny who really REALLY wants a dog of his own. Like many families, it’s not quite practical. Mum’s suggestion that Danny helps out a new neighbour with her dog doesn’t quite lead to Danny’s dream dog… or does it? Fiona and Howard have created a lovely story about friendship, filled with gorgeous illustrations.

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