I was bullied as a kid. It was rarely physical, but it made life at school miserable between the ages of about 8 and 12. This happens to be the age range of a lot of illustrated chapter books that cartoonists are writing for kids, so when I was given the opportunity to present an idea to a publisher, I knew what I wanted to write about.
Friends Against Bullies (FAB) Club is the book I wrote. It follows 5 characters as they band together to stand up to the bullies in their school.
I sent the draft off to the publisher and had some great feedback, but felt that the changes that they wanted made would make the book completely different to one that felt true to me. I used the feedback to edit the book and make it better and then I passed the book to a couple of friends, who had some great advice to make it better still. Then I passed it on to my cousin, who teaches 8 and 9 year olds. She wanted to test it out on her kids, so they spent a few weeks reading it in class and individually.
I went to the school last week and was blown away by the kids’ enthusiasm. They loved the book, but they also had some great insights that will help me re-write it in a way that will make it more accessible for them.
And they wanted more illustrations. I’ve got a lot of work to do.
I had a reader complain about this cartoon today:
She emailed: So …the white polar bear can just go ahead and eat part of a still alive creature AND THAT’S supposed to be funny – really? I am now officially sorry that this particular strip is in my daily paper – I’m thinking there are other choices that are not quite so lame and gross – if you are trying to bring the idea that climate change is a bad thing, perhaps you want stay away from the image that a cartoon polar bear eats a part of a cartoon character while it still talks. Really? This cartoon did not impress me and did not make me laugh and made me reconsider its humor entirely. I must say, I was disappointed.
Firstly, I’m sorry that you were offended by the pangolin cartoon.
Pangolins are critically endangered creatures because they are being eaten in real life. No-one in the west seems to care about this enough to stop it (they don’t have the power of the elephant, or rhino, or panda).
I care. I also want people to take note of what is happening. This is a cartoon and no real pangolins were hurt in its creation. But by being on the brink of offensive, it may make people think, or even act.
I’d urge you to protest about the real pangolins which are being eaten to extinction. You can join the protest here:
Many thanks for reading Arctic Circle and thank you for caring.
This is my file copy. The syndicated comic uses “slingshot” instead of the English “catapult”!
I drew this cartoon series after reading about how ground squirrels are accelerating the melting of permafrost in the Arctic here: