Cleo Can Tie A Bow book inspired an online bow-themed store called the Girls Love Bows Gift Shop. While researching inspiration ideas for the book’s illustrator, Pumudi Gardiyawasam, I realized that there are millions of things that are decorated or embellished with bows. Since I am an Amazon associate, I decided to create a store on my blog that features hundreds of gifts for all of those bow crazy girls out there. I now include that gift shop as part of my book marketing and promotions process.
Cleo Can Tie a Bow’ is part of the ‘Rabbit and Fox’ collection of books. The “Learn To Tie With The Rabbit and Fox” series was born out of my desire to help parents teach their children some simple manual dexterity skills. Learning the intricate moves of tying a neck tie or a bow can seem really tricky. But when you have a story to refer to, it becomes fun and easy to remember the steps. The first book was “Learn To Tie A Tie With The Rabbit and The Fox”. It was very simple and didn’t contain any back ground information about the boy character. It also has an accompanying song containing lyrics with the exact steps it takes to tie a neck tie.
After publishing that book, I decided I wanted to make the boy more interesting to readers so I wrote “Ned Knows How To Tie A Neck Tie”. Ned knows all kinds of knots including fishing knots, rescue knots and other fun knots, like the monkey’s paw. He also loves to wear neck ties because he thinks they make him look good. After Ned’s book was published, I wrote one for girls titled “Nellie Knows How To Knot A Neck Scarf”.
Nellie loves dressing up. I kind of based her character on the idea of the Fancy Nancy books. Nellie has a massive collection of frilly dresses, fun hats and neck scarves. She’s familiar with lots of different ways to knot a neck scarf but her favourite is the “necktie knot”.
From the beginning, I wanted to write a “how to tie a bow” book but I just couldn’t think of a way to make it work the same way the others did. I was stuck on the idea of a fox chasing a rabbit around to tie the knot. After nearly 30 years, Cleo’s story finally made itself known to me. Her story includes a friendly fox that helps a little bunny with its extra-long ear problem. I envision this fox as the forest beautician.
In the book, Cleo Can Tie A Bow, Cleo is the only named character in the story…but there’s a little secret that some people might like to know about the snail. When writing a character introduction for him recently, I revealed that his name is Clarence. You can read it here if you’d like. I decided on his name because it just seemed to compliment the name Cleo. Cleo’s name was much more difficult for me to settle on. I wanted something that would easily flow with “Can Tie A Bow”. I came up with all kinds of names that started with T, B and C before I finally thought of Cleo. Now, I can’t conceive of a better name for her.
My main message that I wanted to instill in Cleo Can Tie A Bow book is “You can do it!” I want children to realize that if they put their mind to something and practice enough times, they will achieve great things. I also want to encourage parents to take the time to help their children overcome obstacles. When parents and their children engage in projects together, the final outcome is likely to be much more positive than if the child is left to figure out things on their own. Another thing is that children learn most of what is right or wrong in society from interacting with their parents. That is why I placed a message in the Dear Reader section of the book, for parents to read to their child, about how important it is to never attempt to tie a live bunny’s ears into a bow. It’s a way to begin some very important dialogs about the differences between cartoon fantasies and reality.
A little bit about the illustrator, Pumudi Gardiyawasam? Cleo’s story begins in her bedroom but I wanted readers to get a clue from the cover that the book was going to take them on an adventure. We worked very closely on every aspect of each picture and after the illustrations for the rest of the book were mostly finished, I expressed my idea for the cover to Pumudi. She took off with it. I love how it turned out. She is a wonderful person to interact with on a children’s picture book project. I thought her technical abilities with the knot tying illustrations were pretty impressive, too. This was actually Pumudi’s first full picture book and I really hope that she gets a lot more illustration work as more people are introduced to her creative abilities. Her instagram profile is i_doodling.
There was a time, when I was a very young girl, that I thought I’d like to be a teacher some day. Even though I work at an engineering firm and not at a school, I find myself in the teaching mode all of the time. I like helping people and showing them better ways to accomplish tasks. If my “Learn To Tie With The Rabbit and The Fox” series of books help kids (or even adults) overcome some of their frustrations and give them the desire to keep trying to become accomplished at simple knot tying, then one of my missions in life will be happily accomplished.
My inspirations for the “Learn To Tie With The Rabbit and The Fox” series of books were drawn from the need to come up with a simple solution to the problem of teaching the skills of tying a neck tie knot or a bow knot. The illustrations in this book show Cleo tying a bow around her waist, and the fox tying a bow above the rabbit’s head. I wanted to show, through the different situations, that this simple method can be used for any bow use, including shoe laces. Surprisingly, there were really no books available to me for inspiration of this kind 30 years ago, when I first thought of the idea. So, the Rabbit and the Fox collection of books was born. The last book in the collection is Boo’s Shoes.