Huggable Hero – An Interview with Squish Rabbit

He’s cute. He’s fluffy. He’s small. But he has some big things to say. On friendship. On feeling lonely. On being brave.

Today we welcome the totally squishable Squish Rabbit and his gorgeous author Katherine Battersby – with this exclusive (and v. cute) interview!

Hello Squish, hello Katherine – so lovely to e-meet you!

Hi, this is Katherine, the one who observes Squish run around her writing desk (and the inside of her head), desperately trying to capture in words and pictures all he does. Squish is a rather shy little guy, and he has a very small voice, so he’s going to whisper in my ear and I’ll translate what he says. Here goes…

Oh, so cute! Tell me, has Squish always been small?

Yes, Squish was born tiny and has hardly grown since. He’s so titchy he can sit atop a flower and climb inside a child’s sock. He’s often overlooked by larger rabbits and has a hard time being heard or understood. In fact, he’s so small he’s never really made a true friend. Until now of course!

What do you think of the saying that the best things come in the smallest packages, and it’s the smallest creatures that have the biggest hearts?

So true! Squish is a great example of these delightful sayings. Even more than being small, Squish feels small, which prevents him from achieving his dreams. But when another creature is in danger, Squish conjures the courage to intervene and discovers he has big and beautiful things inside of him. I have a lot of empathy for kids trying to express themselves in a world where big people often come first – I remember feeling that way myself. I think this is why Squish’s story is so important to me (Squish just did a little twisty jump, showing agreement – I believe this rabbit move is called a ‘binky’).

Rumour has it a large, green, scaly creature once trod all over Squish. Has he fully recovered? (and I bet he doesn’t let people walk all over him now!)

Poor Squish. He’s just so little the other forest creatures don’t see him. Yes, he’s been trodden on, tripped over, run into, and sadly … squished. But he always bounces back! He’s a little trooper. And for those that have read his story, you’ll know what he discovers that means he’ll never be trodden on again.

Does he still have an imaginary friend?

Squish doesn’t let any friend fall by the wayside, real or imagined, but he has discovered that there’s much more you can do with a real friend. A pretend friend is rather hard to play hide and seek with (they’re not very good at searching). And they’re not so skilled at playing tag (running can be a problem). But they do have their positives – they’re very good at keeping secrets!

How important is it to reach out to people who are smaller?

I think we’ve all felt small at times in our lives. Even adults feel small sometimes, when the world gets big with stress and demands. Squish feels it’s particularly important to be good to those who are smaller than us because we never know when we will next be the ones who need help. Even little rabbits believe in Karma. Then again, Squish has never met anyone smaller than him…

What would Squish like to say to little creatures who are too scared to use a big voice?

Squish says we all have special things inside us. He says not to worry about what others can do, but instead find those things you love. Find the things that make your heart sing. Once you’ve found those, it’s much easier to believe in yourself and find the courage to speak up. Believing in yourself is also sure to make you feel much bigger.

Squish would also like to say something to you Miss Tania: great questions!

Aw, thank you! They have been totally inspired by his story. I wonder how it feels to be a real life hero – being that Squish saved Squirrel’s life and all …

Wow, Squish has never seen himself as a hero (he just did another little binky in excitement!). He’s quite a humble little rabbit, so more than anything he was just happy to have found another creature his size. And he also feels a little shy about the whole incident – after all, it may just have been his silliness that risked Squirrel’s safety in the first place. But Squish definitely did himself proud in the end.

Are Squish and Squirrel still close?

Very. I don’t think there have been two closer friends. As it turns out, Squirrel was feeling pretty small and lonely too. They do most things together now. Although they have quite different personalities, which I think can be a real strength in a friendship. They balance each other well. While squirrel is much braver than Squish, Squish is a deep thinker and very empathic.

What do they like to do together?

They love to play games and get up to all sorts of cheekiness. You may just have to wait until book two to see exactly what kind of mischief they get up to …

I wanted to ask Squish what you’re really like as an author?

Squish has gone a little rosy-cheeked and shy at this question. If I could get him to fess up, I think he’d say that I am quite like him in many ways. I definitely feel small some days, and have trouble speaking up for myself and believing that I can do big things. But I do have some amazing friends in my life who help me feel strong and capable.

Oh – Squish does has something to say. He says to tell you that I always sing while I illustrate. He doesn’t mind my voice so much, but wishes I’d sing more about cabbage and burrows. And he says that sometimes I draw him with a rounder belly than he has in real life. He insists he’s been cutting back on carrots. Hmm …

Can you reveal a little bit about the next Squish adventure?

Squish is living his next adventure as we speak, and I am racing to get it all down on paper, one page at a time. It’s another tale about a problem Squish encounters in being small – namely that there are many big things to fear. He’s most afraid of the dark, which is so big it’s everywhere. But one day Squirrel goes missing and it starts to get dark outside. I just hope Squish finds the courage to go out and find her.

Thank you so much, Squish and Katherine for joining us during this very special Bunny Week on Kids’ Book Capers! Where can we learn more about what you’re up to?

Squish has his own little animated book trailer and I have a website you can visit which may just have some secret rabbity surprises hidden around it … www.katherinebattersby.com. I also keep a blog, where I put all my latest projects and musings, plus the occasional new Squishy illustration. Squish also has a special page with his US publisher and his Australian one, too.

Thanks for letting us drop by your blog! Squish sends love and carrots. x

Squish Rabbit is published by University of Queensland Press. Stay tuned for Dee’s review of Squish Rabbit – this Friday!

 

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Tania McCartney

Tania McCartney is an author of children's books and adult non-fiction. Recent books include Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A journey around Melbourne, and Australian Story: An Illustrated Timeline. She's also an editor, publisher and founder of Kids Book Review.

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