Sandy Fussell and Tull Suwannakit are Team Sad, the author and illustrator behind the picture book, Sad the Dog. Today they answer a few questions about their shared work and each other.
What were your first thoughts when you saw the illustrations for Sad?
I almost didn’t recognise him. The Sad I knew (who was female and called Cassie) was a spaniel-type dog with thick grey-black fur and floppy ears. Sad was a little Staffordshire Bull Terrier, with pointy ears and an eye patch like a pirate. But it only took one read of the text alongside the illustrations to realise Tull had drawn the real Sad and the story now rightfully belonged to him, not Cassie.
Were there any parts of the text that required particular polishing?
It amazes me that a story with less than 400 words could have a plot hole – but I had one. My ever-wonderful editor,Sue Whiting, pointed out Sad accepted his new owners too readily, that an unloved dog like Sad would need to be coaxed and encouraged before he responded to gestures of friendship. So the scenes where Jack offers a walk, a comfy dog bed, crunchy biscuits and delicious sausage were added.
What is your favourite illustration?
It’s hard to go past the sheer loneliness and hopelessness of the scene where Sad sits beside his doghouse underneath a leafless tree – and howls –nose to the sky. The colours are glorious and the stark branches and fallen leaves emphasize how absolutely everything has been lost. When Sad becomes happy, I have a second favourite illustration, the one where Jack and Sad pretend to be pirates. It looks like so much fun.
Describe Tull in five words
Talented, generous, empathic, innovative, approachable.
What were your first thoughts when you read the manuscript?
When I read the story, I felt a sense of lost, sadness and loneliness through the eyes of Sad. The dog tries every possible way to please his owners but never quite being appreciated. Yet amidst the “sadness” surrounding the story, there is a heart-warming ending when Jack and his family moves in. Sandy’s use of simple but emotive driven words work so beautifully on many levels, drawing me into being a part of the narrative.
The contrasting tone in the narrative blends potent elements between abandonment and a sense of belonging, making it more than just a storybook, but serves as an underlying message of empathy and point of connection for me as the reader with Sad, the dog (or more appropriately, Lucky).
Did you receive much in the way of editorial direction from Walker Books?
I have been very fortunate to be working with a wonderful team of people at Walker Books including Sue Whiting and Gayna Murphy, who in many ways help bring the visuals together. It’s always good to have a second pair of keen eyes to determine the seamless flow in texts and illustrations.
What was your favourite section to illustrate?
I really enjoy illustrating the scene where Sad woke up in the morning to find Jack sitting next to him. It’s the first time we get to see a bond being made. To me, the scene is almost like the “new beginning” for Sad. He is no longer fearful, his tail starts to wag and best of all, he is happy to have a new found friend by his side. The tone of colours shift from dark, muddy blue to bright morning hues and the leaves blossoms with lush shades of green.
Describe Sandy in five words
Professional, down-to-earth, humble, talented, optimistic.
A touching look into the life of an unloved pet and the heart-warming journey towards finding your true home.
Sad, The Dog
Thursday 1st October, Kids’ Book Review
Friday 2nd October, Kirsty Eager’s Blog
Saturday 3rd October, Buzz Words
Sunday 4th October, Sandy Fussell’s Blog
Monday 5th October, Susanne Gervay’s Blog
Tuesday 6th October, Boomerang Books Blog
Wednesday 7th October, The Book Chook
Thursday 8th October, Creative Kids Tales
Friday 9th October, Dee Scribe Writing
Saturday 10th October, Children’s Books Daily
Sunday 11th October, Reading Upside Down
Monday 12th October, Sandy Fussell’s Blog