Written and Illustrated by Sharon Davey, Published by New Frontier Publishing
I was lucky enough to read this book in order to pose some questions to author and illustrator Sharon Davey. Her answers are brilliant, as is the book!
Sharon- what an enchanting and fun book! I love the bold and bossy Suzy and her determination to find someone to play with. It would be great to get your insights into the questions I devised about Bears Don’t Wear Shoes!
Thank you so much Erin I was so excited for his project to come out. It feels like it has been such a long wait and I’m blown away by the response, especially from little readers.
The illustrations are charming and detailed, painting the picture of a very busy home. How important were all those details to your story and how long did these illustrations take to draw?
The opening spread of inside Suzy’s house definitely took the most time to illustrate. I think it was something like 200 layers when I had finished, so a couple of days to just colour it up. Because it was so busy, I was able to put in lots of details from my own life and little messages for my friends and family. There is a blue monkey from another one of my books with author Emma Perry, a sailboat from a friend’s wedding and a set of sky-blue socks for my football obsessed uncle. This is the first book that’s been completely mine, so I went a bit mad with hidden objects and personal meanings. Hopefully the reader can imagine a full and authentic life for Suzy.
Suzy is feeling very lonely and ignored- and as an only child this may be a rather normal occurrence- are you an only child or just able to empathise with the situation?
No, I have a lovely older brother and we would often get into mischief whilst my mum was busy helping my disabled grandparents who we would see most weekends. I think I most relate to Suzy in how she likes to spend her time, colouring in, dressing up and eating biscuits. I think all kids have times when everyone around them is occupied and being bored is pretty universal. Suzy is headstrong enough to solve her own problems and creative enough to entertain a bear for an afternoon.
Why do you think books are important in teaching friendships and reactions to situations?
Books and storytelling in every capacity are super important in teaching kids how to express themselves. I often think a book is a great tool to get tricky conversations started with kids who are reluctant to talk. Also, when you are both looking at a book it’s less intimidating then being stared at. You can sit side by side and just share.
What do you want readers to take away from your story?
I’d love readers to get the message it’s ok if you don’t have the same interests as a new friend, you can always find a way to spend time together. I think Suzy’s greatest strength is that she keeps getting back up and tries different things until she finds a friend that she’s willing to compromise for. I think I would definitely want to be Suzy’s friend.
Looking at the double page spread of the new house and its setting I am guessing the family have moved to North America- being from Canada I love the moose in the background and the bear appearing as the friend. Where is the story actually set and why did you choose this place?
Well, coming from the UK where we don’t have bears, they don’t have the same threat here as maybe they might in North America and Canada. Inviting one inside might not be the best idea for a real bear. I did think about making our friend a different animal, but a bear seemed to be the cuddliest option. When I was first writing the book, I did play with the idea of Suzy imagining a big bear and playing with a toy bear which was revealed at the end, but I couldn’t resist the idea that a bear had been in their house all day and the parents only noticed when he came to dinner.
Why did you choose a bear to become Suzy’s friend?
My other choices were moose, giraffe, or hippo. Each have their comic problems. A moose on the loose would have been funny. Maybe she should have another adventure?
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions!!