This morning I became aware that today is a very special day indeed.
When Clara and I were first discussing what we might make a book together about, we went in search of a hero to the zoo. We wanted to find a previously unsung animal. A perhaps less than familiar animal. We are both very fond of stories about bears and rabbits and elephants and cats and so on but it seemed to us both that they might have had rather more than their fair share of moments in the spotlight. That it might be someone else’s turn.
We had an inkling of who that someone might be. The fact that at first they were very difficult to track down only added to the excitement. A rather shy animal then?
Whilst we waited for their return we looked at anteaters and slow lorises and sloths and armadillos and agreed they had their charms. But none of them were quite what we needed this time. THEY’VE all had books already after all. We bought ice creams, chatted and waited patiently…
And then!- a tantalising glimpse as somebody came to enjoy the afternoon sun-
And we fell in love. A love only enhanced by the fact that so many passers by did not seem to quite know what they were looking at (my sneaky lean against the information board may not have helped): “It’s an elephant!” “It’s an aardvark!” “It’s an anteater!”. My favourite was the extremely confident man who identified it to his trusting girlfriend as “an enchillada”. But the vast majority were pretty sure they were looking at a strange variant of a pig.
Do you know what we were looking at? Shall I give you a better picture to guess from?
How about now? Of COURSE you do. You know the difference between a Mexican sandwich and an Asian tapir! (The largest of all the tapirs, sadly endangered and the only black and white striped one) Aren’t they delightful and deserving of many, many books written about them?
Yes- today is World Tapir Day and I am proudly declaring myself as Team Tapir Forever. I have a dream that one day I’ll go to the zoo and everyone will know exactly what they are, and that Clara and I will have helped in a small way to bring that about.
But I have to thank those people at the zoo, because indirectly they inspired the title of our first book involving our hero. It is to be called- ‘Mango and Bambang: The Not-a-Pig’. Mango, the heroine is equally important of course but I’ll wait until World Mango Day to tell you more about her. In the meantime I am very excited to give you a sneaky peek of Bambang himself. I do hope you’re going to enjoy meeting him. You only get a bit of him to start with but it’s a VERY fine bit indeed-
Happy World Tapir Day!