Children’s author Kate Wogan and illustrator Helen Faulkner have combined forces to create the Uh Oh Milo! series, a collection of picture books that help children learn about emotions and manners in a fun and engaging way.

Helen Faulkner, Kate Wogan

Helen Faulkner, Kate Wogan

There are currently five books in the Uh Oh Milo! range, including The Excited Elf, The Gobbling Goblins, The Impolite Imps, The Beastly Bogels, and the latest to hit bookshelves, The Tantrum Trolls.

Where does the inspiration come from for the books?

“The Mischief Makers, Milo, Mary and their magical Granny are based on characters my granny made up when we were small, to point out when we weren’t behaving as she would have liked”, says Kate. “They were a fantastic way of talking about our behaviours and emotions as small children in a fun and entertaining way.”

“I think it is important to keep the books as authentic as possible and by writing about my own experience I know I’ll never stray too far away from the message I want to deliver. Each book covers a different behaviour or emotion in an easily digestible style, to start a conversation between parent and child.”

Illustrator Helen also shares her sparks of inspiration, talking about how she brings the characters to life, “I start by picturing the scene in my head. Then I think about the emotions of the characters and how they can use their body language to convey their feelings. I tend to position myself in the poses I am using for the characters to see if it feels accurate to the emotion, it really helps with making sure the characters are authentic.”

Children are the biggest critics; how do you make your stories a success?

“Children must be a part of the creative process, they are the biggest critics with the most amazing imaginations”, says Kate. “Illustrators deserve the credit for bringing your story to life – pictures are just as important as words when writing for children. Find an illustrator who is not only talented, but who understands what you are trying to achieve with your story. It helps if you laugh together as well!”

“When it comes to the words in a story, you must take a step back and think about the audience. Uh Oh Milo! stories carry a message, and it’s crucial this is kept light and fun. When it comes to books for little ones, rhyming prose makes the stories more interactive and interesting as well as helping with word recognition. Tie this together with eye-catching imagery that uses bright colours, and you are on the right track.  We want children to read with their parents, not just be read too. Using key words in bold fonts helps the children start to recognise repeated words and phrases so they can join in. By taking onboard these factors, we’ve been able to create a brand and characters that children love and want to hear more stories from.”

Kate and Helen always work together to make sure their content is right for children, seeking opinions from children and adults over many drafts and asking children for their opinion, as we all know children can provide unfiltered opinions. Experts, such as child psychologists, have also been consulted as the brand has been developed to ensure topics are covered responsibly.

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