We loved Henry Huntsman so much, we wanted to know all about how this friendly spider came to be.
We spent some time chatting to Thommo Caulfield and Renata Oshiro to find out.
You might have heard that Buzzy has a new friend, Henry Huntsman. Henry Huntsman is the lead character in a new book, written by Thommo Caulfield and illustrated by Renata Oshiro. Thommo is a teacher at a primary school on the NSW South Coast and Renata works for the state Government in Sao Paulo, Brazil. We had a chat to Thommo and Renata to find out a bit more about how Henry’s adventures came about.
Beehive: So, one of you lives and works in Australia and the other in Brazil. How did you come to be working together?
Thommo: On a trip to Brazil, I met Renata’s sister Fernanda. She read Henry Huntsman and liked it so much that she asked Renata to design the illustrations and have it printed as a book.
Renata: My sister (who is now engaged to Thommo), thought it would make a great gift if she surprised him by having one of his stories illustrated as a gift. She asked me if I knew any graphic designers, but as it turned out, I was actually doing my own research on children’s book illustrations, so it came as a perfect fit.
Beehive: Have you always wanted to be a writer/illustrator?
Renata: I used to draw a lot as a kid, and have done some courses, but it was only a hobby. This book is my first experience in illustration, something I have always admired, so I’m really glad for the opportunity that came along.
Thommo: No. I always wanted to be a professional soccer player, but as I became older I realised I had a talent for writing and telling stories.
Beehive: What was the inspiration for Henry Huntsman?
Thommo: My fear of spiders! As a kid, I was terrified of spiders, especially Huntsmen because they were huge, hairy and fast. I always knew they were harmless, but was scared nonetheless. I think I was inspired to write a nice spider story because I felt bad about treating them unfairly.
Renata: The cute story of Henry led my imagination to how the characters would look. I also did some research on the internet, as Huntsman spiders are not common in Brazil.
Beehive: Do you have a favourite part of the story?
Thommo: I love the part when Henry visits his Grandpa Herman. The image of an old spider with a long, grey beard and a walking stick is very funny to me.
Renata: I don’t have a favourite part of the story, but I find it especially cute and funny when Henry is at the pool just chilling out; that is until the lifeguard catches him!
Beehive: What are three things we can all learn from Henry?
Renata: I believe Henry’s best quality is his pure, childlike heart untainted by things we ‘learn’ as we grow up like intolerance and prejudice. Then there is Henry’s relaxed, friendly personality that’s always looking to share a good time with others. I also think we can learn from Henry to leave the bad feelings behind and make way for better things to come, like meeting a new friend.
Thommo: Be kind to others. Be proud of who you are. If we look in the right places we can all find someone who loves us and gives us a purpose.
Beehive: Are there plans for more Henry stories?
Thommo: Tonnes! Henry has plans to visit the Amazon Rainforest, play World Cup soccer – and he might even fall in love.
Renata: Yes. Thommo has already written some – they are just waiting to be illustrated.
Well, we’re excited for the next instalments, but for now we will continue to enjoy Henry Huntsman. Stay tuned for our next chat with Thommo and Renata coming soon.
You can learn more about Huntsmen and a whole bunch of other animals and places at our Global Safari. Join Buzzy and his mates Zac and Zara on their adventures around the globe and see what you can find.