Juan Uys

I made my daughter a book for her first birthday.


Made? Yes, made – not wrote. See below.

TL;DR here it is (with names redacted to respect privacy).

My day is a grab-bag of abstract concepts, data as shapes moving from system to system on pathways built with tools I love dearly. However, every now and then I want to inject some characters and narrative into my life.

A previous, on-ice-yet-ongoing foray into Story Land is when we learnt we were pregnant. My world was shaken, and in a nervous panic I wanted to surround myself with things that will cleanse my mind, prepare my heart, and re-awaken the child in me. All in preparation for the Little Being that was to join us in June 2013.

I was going to write a picture book. The poem it’s based on came to me on a train journey to the Cotswolds. It was going to be perfect. But, I had to practice. Doodle, draw, illustrate. Devour colours. Try and not be precious about my Moleskine notebooks. Scribble, then scribble some more. Rip out pages, and throw stuff away.

I started in earnest, but truth be told that a Picture Book is not an overnight endeavour.

Meanwhile, Little One was born. Slow and considered sketches were soon replaced by frantic nightly dashes finding nappies and milk. My fountain pen dried up and clogged sooner than one can say “priority shift”.

A few months ago it dawned on me that she’ll turn one soon. I started to think of her first ever gift. The picture book was still months away from being completed. All along our Little Beloved pointed at “C for Cat” on her alphabet toy, and a light bulb appeared above my head: a cat book!

The birthday is now imminent, and something needed to be sent to the print shop pronto. Inspired by “famous cats” from a pub quiz, I went on to create this. Heavily cribbed and everything stolen from far flung corners of the Interwebs, but hey – it’s not like I’ll be making money off it!

Fun was had, and Father Time once again looks down favourably on my poem-inspired work of art which will soon sit alongside our Little One’s other precious things.

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