Character Development for Character Development

My story about shelter animal adoption is written, and I’ve been working diligently with the artist, Gokhan Bas to expand the cast of characters in this series of children’s picture books about Luna, Asher and their family. In Start With Sorry, we created Luna and Asher as our heroes. Luna’s a bit younger than her brother, Asher and is working on developing her empathy skills.  Together they learn and grow through everyday challenges, with the help of Mom, Dad and their pet cat, Buddy.

There’s just one problem: with Luna and Asher away at school all day, Buddy gets lonely. To solve this problem, the family decides to go to the local animal shelter and adopt a pet dog. It’s there that they meet Sam, an older canine who gets overlooked by kids who are attracted to the young puppies. This is where the lesson in empathy becomes most apparent. With a bit of interaction, it becomes obvious that Sam was meant to be part of the family.

To develop the illustrations of Sam, we needed to consider his role in the story. We knew that we wanted Sam to look a bit older, and we knew that we wanted him to be good with children and friendly. After a bit of research that included listening to friends’ stories about their pets, and a few hours of overtime watching Animal Planet, we decided on a Golden Retriever. They’re obedient, friendly and great with kids. But, as LeVar Burton would say, “Don’t take my word for it!” Have a look at this video about Golden Retrievers:

We knew that a Golden Retriever would be a great addition to Luna and Asher’s family. The challenge, of course, was to make sure that Sam and Buddy would resist the temptation to fight like cats and dogs in the long-term. This made for another valuable lesson in character development for the children, and a happy ending indeed.

Post Author: PT Finch