The book started with Harold the Penguin. He and his couplet just came into my head one day and when I tried it out on people they laughed - without exception. Curious because this is probably the simplest one in the book. My wife Jackie became involved and over a number of months we developed a kind of friendly rivalry in a determined effort to complete an alphabet.We started by thinking about an alphabet of names, then associated these with a range of creatures and, projecting human behaviours onto them, set about fulfilling the requirements of the rhyming couplet. Quentin, for example, suggests a rather privileged and condescending character; the name Kevin brought to mind a moody adolescent; and Unwin had to be somewhat old-fashioned but kindly.Although the poems were written to amuse children, we felt that brevity was the soul of wit and hoped (as has proved to be the case) that children might bond with favourites and fix them in their memories.
Educationally, the 26 poems present children with 26 different creatures and provide a wealth of opportunities for research, creative writing and art work.