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The story behind THAT'S NOT MY® books

Fiona Watt
Fiona Watt, author of the THAT'S NOT MY® series books

2019 marks 20 years of the Usborne bestselling THAT'S NOT MY® series of touchy-feely books for little ones. 

Author Fiona Watt takes us behind the scenes to see how a THAT'S NOT MY® series book is made. She works closely with THAT'S NOT MY® series illustrator Rachel Wells in drafting ideas for the pictures and thinking of attributes that would work for the touchy-feely patches. For That's not my elephant... it was the ears, trunk, tusks, tail, tummy and feet.

Happy birthday That's not my...

That's not my elephant...

Here are Rachel's initial sketches: 

That's not my elephant

That's not my elephant...

Fiona writes: "In the first one, we felt the touchy-feely patch on the tail should be larger. I spoke to Rachel and she sent back a new sketch.

Rachel amended the shape of the elephant, but the touchy-feely patch was still too small. She’d added some background, but I felt it wasn’t a good idea to show an elephant eating an apple, as elephants don’t eat apples in the wild!

That's not my elephant...

Above is Rachel's third pencil sketch, this time with the elephant holding a branch. Usborne Art Director Mary Cartwright and I asked Rachel to do a few further tweaks before she did the final artwork and coloured it in digitally. The tail was a bit too blobby and the little mouse was missing.

That's not my elephant...

Above you can see the final, coloured artwork with an amended tail and the mouse! At this stage I choose the touchy-feely texture and decide on the sensory adjective. I have a large folder with sample fabrics that have been used in other Usborne touchy-feely books, and try to use one of them as I know they have passed the rigorous safety tests."

The THAT'S NOT MY® series books may have sold over 20 million copies worldwide, but they almost didn't see the light of day. Peter Usborne was so against the idea of the 'negative' sounding title that he said they would be published 'over my dead body'! Fortunately, he changed his mind and here we are over 50 titles later...

Explore the full range of THAT'S NOT MY® series books here.

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