Lulu Bell loves animals. Find out what happens when a rescued pony almost causes a birthday disaster, a calf gets stuck in the mud at the farm, a tiger cub gets in trouble, and Lulu gets a double dose of kitten and puppy cuteness at one unforgettable pyjama party!
Lulu Bell’s Amazing Animal Adventures includes four bestselling Lulu Bell stories:
* Lulu Bell and the Birthday Unicorn
* Lulu Bell and the Cubby Fort
* Lulu Bell and the Tiger Cub
* Lulu Bell and the Pyjama Party
LULU BELL Inspiration
When I was growing up, my dad was a vet, and when I was about Lulu’s age, my family lived behind our vet hospital. Of course we always had lots of animals. Some of these animals included dogs, cats, possums, a wallaby, ducks, a lamb, rabbits, calves, budgies, fish, snakes, a tortoise, pigs, and horses. It was the best childhood in the world!
Of course, with so many animals, they were always getting into mischief. Lots of the animal antics in Lulu Bell are based on true stories from my childhood. For example, my pony Rosie did come into the kitchen to steal food off the kitchen bench. My cat really did have a litter of kittens in the washing machine. And our family really did help rescue lots of wild and domestic animals. One of these was a wallaby joey called Christabel, who lived in a sack on the back of the kitchen door.
Just like Lulu, I had a younger sister with a vivid imagination, a younger brother who was always getting into mischief and a mum who was incredibly patient with all the animal chaos.
But the Lulu stories also draw inspiration from my life now. Asha was based on our old Rhodesian Ridgeback and her daughter Jessie who really is the smiliest dog in the world. While everyone says that Serena Geddes’ beautiful illustrations of Lulu look just like my daughter Emily!
1. How did you come up with the idea to write the Lulu Bell series?
It was a conversation with my then seven year old niece Ella. I wanted to write a series for younger readers, aged six to nine years old and was mulling over some ideas. So I asked the expert – Ella, who is a keen reader and knows exactly what she likes (as her mum Kate Forsyth is also an author!).
‘What are your favourite books Ella?’ I think I was expecting an answer that included mermaids, fairies or tropical islands. Without hesitation she replied – ‘Books about friends and animals.’ Of course she does. Just like I did as a child. Then I remembered how much my own children (who are now teenagers) used to love it when I told them stories about my childhood with all the animals we had. My dad was a vet so we had literally dozens of pets at any one time.
2. What was it like growing up next door to a vet?
I had the best childhood in the world! Dad was always rescuing orphaned or injured animals. Dad could never bear to put down an animal unless it was absolutely necessary. I remember sometimes people would want to put an animal down and Dad disagreed, so he would bring it home for us to look after. Luckily, my mother loved animals just as much. At one time, I remember we had three dogs, four cats, ducks, two piglets, budgies, a pony, and several orphan calves which had to be fed by hand – all in our suburban back garden. We had so many adventures – whether it was travelling out to farms to help him deliver newborn calves, assisting in the operating theatre or rescuing wildlife. My favourite job was always helping dad with the caesarean births. I would take the newborn puppies or kittens, each one in its own little sac, and rub it gently with a towel to get it breathing. It was such a joy to help bring the new babies into the world.
3. What were the most unusual animals your dad brought home?
People often found injured wildlife and brought the animals into the vet hospital. We had a wallaby joey called Christabel who slept in a sack hung on the kitchen door, as well as several orphan possums. We had a turtle which lived in a fish bowl on the kitchen table. Dad also had a huge carpet python for a while, which lived in the verandah rafters. Once when I was a teenager, I had to look after a couple of blue belly black snakes, which are of course venomous. That was a little scary.
4. When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always want to be a writer?
Perhaps not surprisingly, when I was young I wanted to be a vet like my dad, so I could have lots of animals to heal and look after. I always loved writing though. I started writing stories at about the age of eight. As I grew older, I realised I was really good at English but completely hopeless at maths and chemistry so I decided to stick to my strengths instead – and what a good move that was!
5. Do you have any pets now?
My three children think it is very unfair because we don’t have anywhere near enough animals for their liking. We have a gorgeous Rhodesian Ridgeback dog called Rosie. The two Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs in the Lulu Bell series are inspired by our old dog Asha and her daughter Jessie (who is really my sister’s dog). Asha was bred by my dad, from his lovely dog Nicky. So we had several family holidays with three generations of the Rhodesian Ridgeback dog family together. For nineteen years we had two lovely fluffy Himalayan cats called Chloe and Coco, who were bred by my mum. Sadly they died recently. For years we also had a rabbit called Lucy. We have a Stimson python called Sammy who lives in a glass tank on our kitchen bench. Lastly we have a beautiful Australian stockhorse mare called Nutmeg. However we keep her up at my brother’s farm. This is where our family escapes to have lots of animal adventures with horses, calves, chickens, wallabies and echidnas.