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Artwork © Helen Cooper
Tatty Ratty Background Information

Wocky, my sister’s toy koala bear was always going missing. And he sometimes looked different when he turned up. Once, guided by my parents, my sister found him in a toy shop. She knew, amongst all the koala’s in the shop, which was Wocky by his eyes and expression, in spite of his new fur and collar. I suppose it was the stuffed toy version of reincarnation.

Surely the soul of any favourite toy is given by the child who loves it. Could you step on the face of your own (or your child’s), favourite toy? In Tatty-Ratty, when Molly’s toy rabbit goes missing, she creates an imaginary adventure for him, paralleling her own life and thoughts. She is sure that Tatty-Ratty will whirl through time and space until he returns to her. It’s a sort of of ’Around the fairy tale world in 40 hours’ by bus, train, carridge, boat, dragon, rocket. Mind you, he stops for meals on the way. For instance, at breakfast time, she insists that somewhere Tatty-Ratty will be eating too. The Three Bears cottage seems just the place.

When I came to illustrate the story, roadside graphics were an obvious source for exploration. I also researched traditional boardgame design with it’s enclosed circular journeys, and the amazing artwork on fairground rides. All those beautifully painted carridges going nowhere very fast, seemed very relevant to Tatty-Ratty’s journey. I found the children’s rides at Carters Travelling Steam Fair in the U.K, particularly inspiring.

I used more surreal elements during the night time sections of the book, as Tatty-Ratty’s adventure mingles with Molly’s dreams. Trains go by bubble power, and planets are giant sweets. As for the huge rabbit hypermarket, ’Bunny Kingdom’, where Tatty-Ratty eventually reappears the next morning. Well I just wanted to make one of those huge and rather unimaginative out of town toy marts look a little more fun. (Spot the guest appearances of other literary rabbits, ‘Bing Bunny’ and ‘Radish’.)

Could any rabbit really stay the same after an adventure like this? Luckily Molly thinks not. She decides Tatty-Ratty’s exploits may have changed his appearance some what. For a start his ears were stretched on the pirate ship, and he grew a new coat of fur in the cold of the moon. The ‘Bunny Kingdom’ hypermarket is full of rabbits, but only Molly knows which one is Tatty-Ratty.
“But is it the same Tatty-Ratty?” someone asked me.
Molly thinks so and she should know.

He’s gone missing again now. If you see him, please return him to Molly with or without his buttons. Her parents would like to get some sleep.