One thing I love about the creative industries is that several people can have a similar idea yet express it in totally different ways. This was brought home to me the other evening when attending a talk by CBCA judge, Cathie Tasker. Cathie pointed out that two of the books shortlisted for awards this year were on the same theme, yet they were different in so many ways – Mr Huff and What’s Up MuMu?
You can see even from the covers the difference in approach and mood – such a contrast! Walker’s pastel coloured story of a boy’s day being clouded by Mr Huff is gentle and contemplative whilst Mackintosh’s contrary MuMU who refuses to be cheered up is bold and humorous. Both books are fabulous. Both books are needed – each will reach a reader in a different way and each will reinforce the message of the other.
I love that my publisher, Wombat Books, published two books within a short space of time on the theme of aging and dementia. One is When I See Grandma, written by yours truly 🙂 and the other is Do You Remember by O’Gara and McNeil. Both books invoke the power of memories, yet again the look and feel are totally different.
So where do the tomatoes fit in? It reminds me of the tomato medley you can buy at the grocers – the packet only contains tomatoes- but what a variety! There are yellow ones, red ones, round ones, tear-shaped and stripy. They all look different and have subtle differences in flavour. Our palate and diet is enriched from the variety. So it is with books for kids – variety within a theme is important.
When we think of it this way, we realise that as authors and illustrators, we are not in competition. We can (and must) support and champion each other and our books. My book will reach a readership in a different way to yours, despite any similarities in story and theme. And they are both important. There’s room on the shelf for us all!
PS I’d love to hear what books you love that have a similar theme in the comments below!