Owl Know How – The Book Deal

by Jenny Butler
Tuesday 3rd April 2012

Something I’ve learnt over the past few years of being involved with TDF is that there is always a unique answer to ‘how did you get a book deal?’ and today we hear Cat and Isobel’s story. Thames and Hudson have offered 5 copies of Owl Know How to The Design Files readers – leave a comment on any of this weeks Guest Blog posts before 10pm on Thursday to be in the running! – Jenny x

Cat solo exhibition, Secret Animal Realms (For You to See)

On opening night of Cat’s exhibition, while she was still delirious from the late nights getting the show together, Paulina De Laveaux, a publisher from Thames and Hudson, approached her and asked if we’d be interested in turning the animation into a children’s book.

The original mock-up cover for Owl Know How

There were many meetings that followed throughout May – September about what the book should be about, how many pages, how much it should cost, etc. We made up a short example story from the animation stills, designed a rough cover and made a pretend book for Paulina to use to convince the powers that be that Owl Know How was a good idea.

It all seemed like an opportunity too good to be true and it wasn’t until we were signing the contract that we let ourselves believe our good fortune!

Some of the pages from the first mock-up copy of Owl Know How

Once we knew it was for real we refined the story from the many crazy plans we’d conceived. We suddenly had a realisation about the amount of work we were up for! It was scary, but so exciting! It meant we needed to simplify the story again and again to make sure it was achievable and suitable before we began.

Sketching out ideas- note to self: order lots of felt!

We got serious about a theme and the characters. Both of us had heard a few people talking about how protagonists in children’s books are most often male so we decided our lead character would be female. It took us a while to come up with her name but in the end she is Cornelia which is very close to the Italian word for rabbit, coniglio.


On September 7th it was at last time to sign the contract! What an exciting day! We took ourselves off to a café and signed on the dotted line over a glass of celebratory champagne!

Isobel and Cat x

by Jenny Butler
Tuesday 3rd April 2012


  • Charmian 5 years ago

    I love the animation – the felt characters, the story, the music, EVERYTHING! My 7 month old was glued to the screen :) Can’t wait to check out the book.

  • k8 5 years ago

    My 3 year old daughter adored the movie – I would love to give her the book!

  • bambi 5 years ago

    im lost for words…I NEED OWL KNOW HOW! x

  • oscarlucinda 5 years ago

    super cute. i’ll have to track down a copy….clever ladies x

  • caz 5 years ago

    that is the most gorgeous thing ever, will send this to my new niece in hong kong =)

  • Ange Harders 5 years ago

    This made me smile, even before my morning coffee! Beautiful, girls.

  • Raewyn 5 years ago

    Super cute and love the title, sure my little girl would love this!!!!

  • Meg 5 years ago

    This was really interesting to read about the process of the book coming together and what was involved – thanks for sharing – I also like your decision to make the lead character in your book female – great work.

  • margie 5 years ago

    Love seeing creative peeps’ success… especially over champagne!!

  • Amanda Falson 5 years ago

    The little video almost made me cry, its so beautiful and sweet! Gorgeous music, too. Too too beautiful!

  • Heidi 5 years ago

    Kids and I loved the vid, and the book – amazing … too clever and cute! Very clever and patient gals! Hx

  • Anna 5 years ago

    What a gorgeous book, thank you for sharing the process behind it. I can’t wait to share it with sleepy scallop!

  • Tash 5 years ago

    Wow, what amazingly talented ladies you are. How lovely to delve into the mind of a child for a while. My boy would love it.

  • Sam 5 years ago

    the animations and felt toys are wonderful. I would love to have this gorgeous book to share with my neices and nephews.

  • Jodi 5 years ago

    Great story. Looking forward to hearing more about the process.

  • adele 5 years ago

    oooooooohhhhhh! super cute!

  • elissa c 5 years ago


  • Vanessa 5 years ago

    This has made my day – to know that there are fantastic opportunities out there for fantastic handmade concepts and fantastic creative talent!! I wish you nothing but the best! I have been coveting your critters for a while now, but your book is definitely on the ‘must buy now’ list – one for me, and one for my 2 year old owl-obsessed nephew Raine! Success is yours ladies! Love it xx

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