Slug Love by Cath Jones, illustrated by Craig Shuttlewood. Published by Maverick Books

Slug would LOVE to be the gardener’s best friend, but how can he win her love? Will chomping heart-shaped holes in her favourite plants send the right message, or will he end up in the Bucket of Doom? A tale of an optimistic slug in pursuit of an unlikely friendship.

Today I welcome author Cath Jones to the blog to chat about some of the green-fingered inspiration behind her adorable new picture book Slug Love.

Welcome Cath! I’ve heard you’re a keen gardener; what inspired you to get into gardening? How do you think we can encourage children to become gardeners, especially when so many children don’t have access to one?

My love of gardening grew from a Halloween pumpkin. More than twenty years ago, I carved my first pumpkin and saved the seeds. The following spring, I sowed the seeds and from that moment I was hooked on growing anything you could eat. I went on to run school gardening clubs and manage a small community allotment as well. 

There are lots of opportunities for children to get involved in growing: many community gardens run family sessions and most schools will have a school garden and a gardening group. You don’t need a garden to grow things. I grow lettuce in polystyrene boxes and herbs in old tins. You’d be amazed what will grow in a pot on a windowsill.

There are lots of wonderful, gardening themed picture books. Sharing these with children is a fun way of inspiring an interest in growing. My first picture book, Bonkers About Beetroot, includes everything you need to know about growing things from seeds.

As spider says in the story, ‘gardeners hate slugs!’ Is ‘the bucket of doom’ based on real life events? 

Yes, the bucket of doom really did exist! Back when I first got into growing vegetables I was trying to grow things in a garden that had not been touched for many years. It was a complete wilderness with its own huge community of slugs and snails eager to chomp my seedlings. Each night, I went out with a torch and collected them up into a bucket. I didn’t want to kill them so I cycled down to the local common with the bucket and relocated all the slugs and snails.

You’ve teamed up with fantastic illustrator Craig Shuttlewood to bring Slug and his garden friends to life. What is your favourite spread from the book and why? 

The very first page of Slug Love is an absolute delight. It includes orange pumpkins and a cosy gardener’s shed. It’s the first time the reader meets all the characters and Slug is looking adoringly at the gardener. There is so much going on, plenty of little details to hunt for: a couple of cats and clues that show gardeners don’t like slugs. But Slug totally fails to notice all the anti-slug clues. Hilarious!

Tell us about the gardener in the story. Did you have someone in mind when you created her character and briefed your illustrator? 

The fact that the gardener is a wheelchair user was inspired by someone I know who has become a wheelchair user in the last few years. She said she would like to see more wheelchair users depicted in stories with their wheelchair use NOT the focus of the story.

Do you have any more green-fingered adventures planned for young readers? 

I’m always busy creating stories for children and yes, growing vegetables does feature quite often. I’ve just written a story for a school reading scheme, called The Biggest Carrot in the World, though I don’t know yet whether it will be published or not.

A big thanks to Cath for stopping by to chat and share Slug’s adventures with us – it’s always a pleasure discovering the story behind a story.

Slug Love will be published by Maverick Books on the 28th June.

Keep following Slug’s sparkly trail as he visits these fantastic blogs on the tour.

With thanks to Maverick Books for inviting me to be part of the tour.

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