Q&A with Cotswolds based Gabrielle Kuzak, author of 'Amazing Mums'
- Credit: hannahbroadway.com
Did you know an orangutan mother can make up to 15,000 nests for her young in her lifetime? Or that a dolphin mother doesn’t sleep at all for the first month of her baby’s life to keep it safe? Do you know which mother cares for its baby longer than any other mum in the world? Find out in this joyful children’s book Amazing Mums written by Gabrielle Kuzak and illustrated by Hannah Broadway. Perfect for four- to eight-year-olds, this book tells stories about amazing animal mothers from across the world. It is inspiring, educational and visually captivating!
Hi, Gabrielle. Please introduce yourself and tell us what you do.
How did you come to write Amazing Mums?
My family and I lived in San Francisco for four years. Before coming back to the UK, we took an epic 10-week trip around California and Oregon. Whilst camping in Yosemite, a bear appeared growling outside our tent. I grabbed my penknife and was ready to fight it! In that moment, I knew I would do anything to protect my children, which was good because they were all asleep. This made me think about the strength and courage of mothers, and the lengths they go to to protect their young. I was sure there were some amazing stories about motherhood in the animal kingdom, and thought how great it would be to bring these stories to life in a children’s book.
A few years later, we moved to the UK. Whilst working towards our goal of walking the entire length (630 miles) of the South West coast path, I got bitten by a tick in Exmoor and then contracted Lyme disease. I’ve spent the last 18 months recovering from this illness. Writing this book has been a really positive thing that has come out of a difficult time for me.
Tell us a little about the book, and please tell us some of your favourite amazing facts about mums.
Amazing Mums is a celebration of motherhood. Dads are often portrayed as the strong protectors, but mothers, throughout the animal kingdom, are strong and brave and undertake phenomenal feats to protect, care for and bring up their young. I really enjoyed researching this book. My favourite facts are that the dolphin mother doesn’t sleep at all for the first month of her baby’s life to keep it safe. Being a mother, you remember how utterly exhausting the first few months are of your baby’s life, with very little sleep. I was also really struck by how powerful, strong and fast the lioness is. We often think of the lion as the ‘king of the jungle’, yet it is the mother who does nearly all of the hunting, often out-running the lion, and she shows enormous strength and courage in fighting off anything that tries to harm her cubs.
- 1 20 of the best places to eat out in St Ives
- 2 Seven Falls, Tintwistle - a hidden gem in the Peak District
- 3 10 great circular walks in Lancashire
- 4 10 great circular walks in Cheshire
- 5 Can you rehome Surrey’s loneliest dog?
- 6 6 waterfall walks in Derbyshire and the Peak District
- 7 Country walks with summer pub gardens in the Cotswolds
- 8 12 beautiful waterfalls in Yorkshire
- 9 20 of the best restaurants in Hertfordshire
- 10 11 pretty riverside pubs in Hertfordshire
Can you share a favourite mum-related anecdote?
On our camping trip in the States, the boys went a bit feral and were getting filthier by the day. One day, I insisted that all of them have a real proper scrub down. It wasn’t until I asked one of the twins, Harry, to take his hat off during the shower that we realised he had a lizard under there! Apparently, Lizzy the lizard had been staying in our tent with us for the last few nights, unbeknown to us!
How did you collaborate with Hannah on the illustrations – what was the process?
When I saw Hannah’s artwork a few years ago, I asked her to create a family portrait for my husband’s Christmas present. It’s brilliant and captures the spirit of who we are so well. When I started writing Amazing Mums, I knew I wanted Hannah to illustrate it. We met for a coffee, she loved the idea of the book and said yes straight away! We worked with a small independent publisher, Peahen Publishing, who really helped pull it together. They worked up some design layouts and liaised with Hannah about deadlines, and the structure of the page. Hannah is an incredibly talented artist and filled the book with her joyful, vibrant and colourful art.
Your illness through contracting Lyme disease sounds terrifying. Did any positives come out of the enforced time off?
It isn’t a simple disease that you treat and get rid of. There are over 70 symptoms of Lyme – it can affect every single part of your body, triggering infections and causing damage. I am a very firm believer that in darkness there is always light, though. You have to dig deep and keep pushing on. I probably wouldn’t have written this book if I hadn’t have got so ill.
We know you’ve travelled extensively – what’s on the wish list when travel really opens up again?
A big camping trip round Europe is on my wish list! Its diversity of cultures and landscapes is very appealing… and it’s right on our doorstep.