Katie’s Caterpillars was my first book to be published.
It began life as Henry’s Caterpillars, but the publishers, O’Brien Press, wanted a female lead. So I suggested changing the name to Caitlin, which is my daughter’s name. That didn’t go down well! We ended up with Katie. (Editors do have their little ways.)
Katie wants a pet, but not a puppy, or a kitten, or a rabbit or anything ordinary. She wants caterpillars, because she’s mad about them. Mum isn’t, but eventually she gives in. Katie gets a tank full. Then they go on holiday to Auntie Susan’s, and Katie entrusts her precious pets to nice Mrs Murphy next door. When Katie comes back, she has a shock!
There are black and white illustrations by Stephen Hall, and I have to confess, I wasn’t mega keen on them to start with. They’ve grown on me over time, but I never got more than luke warm about them! However, I had no input into the artwork, disappointingly.
This book was written with my Caiti in mind. She wasn’t especially addicted to caterpillars, but she did use to bring things she found in the graden indoors and drop them on her plate at dinner time – stones, flowers, beetles … She’s grown out of that, now that she’s nearly 17!
There’s a US version of Katie’s Caterpillars. It was translated into American English by an unknown editor. He or she made subtle, suitable changes: for example, ‘garden’ became ‘yard’, ‘Mum’ became ‘Mom’, and ‘soppy and daft’ (describing butterflies) became ‘nerdy and boring’! It was fun to read the alternative version!