Owl Know How - The Book Deal

Jenny Butler
Jenny Butler
3rd of 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

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