17 Apr 2017, 5 p.m.
Jess Black was an animal-obsessed child.
So, it seems only fitting that animals play a role in a lot of her children’s books.
The Newcastle 44-year-old mother is excited to unveil her new set of books, which centre around Guide Dogs and carries subtle messages for children, at Ground Up Espresso, Carrington at 3pm on April 22.
Black described Little Paws as a fun, heart-warming series about the puppies that train to become Guide Dogs and the families who help raise them.
“I got to learn about an area I knew very little about; people with limited or no visibility, how do they get around on a daily basis … how having a dog can take life from being quite stressful to actually being enjoyable,” Black said.
“I just think there’s a message in there for kids in particular, how you can make a difference by being a puppy raiser.
“But also by learning a little bit about things, like you’re not meant to pat a guide dog if you see one with a working harness on, and perhaps thinking a little bit more about people who don’t have life as easy as you have it. All of those messages are in the book.”
The books chronicle the adventure of kids who look after Guide Dogs in training.
“You can apply to be a puppy raiser for guide dogs; you have the dog for a year from 12 weeks until around 14 months and basically just need to give the puppy lots of love and care plus basic socialisation training as well,” Black said,
“So I guess the stories are a little bit different because there’s a little bit of information about what it means to be a puppy raiser.
“A different family in each story has a different puppy and rather than having the parents calling the shots I’ve got the kids calling the shots; they’re the ones who are in charge of looking after the puppy.”
Black has written over 30 junior fiction books and two picture books, Moon Dance and The Bold Australian Girl (July 2017 release).
She is the author of the Keeper of the Crystals series and the co-author of the hugely successful Bindi Wildlife Adventure series, RSPCA Animal Tales series and The Kaboom Kid series with David Warner.
“It’s new to write about Guide Dogs but I have quite a track record with this age group and animal stories,” Black said.
“I was the kid who had four mice, one guinea pig, two rabbits, a cat, a dog and wanted more. I’ve always loved animals.
“They are really fun to write about or to include in stories, and there’s something for them for this age in particular generally speaking, most of the kids, six to seven and up are pretty animal crazy.
“It’s fun and so far with the animal stories I’ve written there’s always been a bit of a message as well, like looking after them, taking care of them properly.”
Black will be reading parts of the Little Paws series on April 22.