Three Questions About Scaredy Squirrel Visits the Doctor
What was your inspiration for the Scaredy Squirrel series and for this particular title?
The first Scaredy Squirrel book was published back in 2006. Scaredy was already fearful of germs and had his rubber gloves and mask handy! My idea was to make a book about a nervous, cautious character who stuck to his routine and avoided taking risks—he had food and shelter in his nut tree!
I was inspired by our often fear-driven media and by safety warnings (think exit plans in airplanes). Many of us want things to be under control and to know what to expect. I thought it would be great if Scaredy Squirrel discovered something about himself by taking an accidental risk (a leap into the unknown). When Scaredy discovers he’s a flying squirrel, he realizes that he’s capable of more than he ever imagined! That’s how the series started soaring. I think everyone can relate to fear, like fear of making new friends, fear of traveling, fear of the dark. It only made sense, especially in these times, to have an adventure about Scaredy’s fear of visiting the doctor (in his case, Dr. Vet).
We love the way the books are organized. How did you come up with the structure of Scaredy Squirrel’s story?
My Scaredy Squirrel stories are told using nutty graphics, lists, and diagrams. It’s a lot of fun to do! I was inspired by instruction manuals, for sure. I studied graphic design and really enjoy breaking up ideas in visual ways to keep readers interested. I like to surprise the reader at every page turn!
What do you hope children take away from Scaredy Squirrel’s doctor visit?
I hope my books trigger discussions with young readers, parents, and teachers! I think kids can see the exaggeration in Scaredy’s fears and find comfort in knowing that Scaredy can overcome what he is afraid of, one small step at a time.
Also, I’d like kids to understand that information is power! The more you learn about something, the less you fear it. In Scaredy Squirrel Visits the Doctor, Scaredy is worried about not knowing what happens during a check-up and thinks it could be painful. Scaredy tries to avoid the vet by staying as healthy as he can. But he eventually sees that getting a check-up, and knowing he is a-okay, outweighs all his worries. And Dr. Vet gives Scaredy helpful tips for what to do when he feels panic taking over.
Three Questions About You
If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be and why?
Funny thing—I never thought I’d be a writer! I started out studying graphic design and imagined I’d end up working in advertising. The first time I tried writing was when I wrote and illustrated a school project (a book about color called Leon the Chameleon). My teacher sent my project to a publisher, and I started making books. I like being creative and have been since I was a kid. So I’d be doing something in the arts, for sure!
What book has stuck with you since you’ve read it?
I’d say The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I read it a while ago and learned that being in the moment is key to a calmer existence. It’s something I have had to work on over the years, because it’s easy to go into a worry mode when we’re not in the present. And in a way, when Scaredy plays dead for two hours, he stops everything (he stays still, like he’s meditating) and lets things pass. Taking some time to be in the moment, breathing deeply, can be what we need to get back on track.
What item in your fridge tells us something about you?
I always have some spaghetti sauce handy. Makes an easy lunch for when I’m running out of time. Plus, pasta is a family favorite. My son can’t get enough of it!