Grace and Mr Milligan by Caz Goodwin, illustrated by Pip Kruger

Grace and Mr Milligan by Caz Goodwin, illustrated Pip Kruger

Guest author: Caz Goodwin

Could you tell us about your new picture book, Grace and Mr Milligan?

Grace lives next door to old Mr Milligan and his goat Charlie. They are the best of friends. But when Charlie passes away, everything changes. Grace is disturbed seeing Mr Milligan closeted at home, and in her childlike way, tries to help him back into the world.

Grace and Mr Milligan is a bitter-sweet story of loss, love and the healing power of friendship.

Why did you want to write this book?

Death can be a confronting and confusing concept for young children. It’s often difficult for them to comprehend and adults can also find it a challenging topic to discuss. There are plenty of kids’ books about a child losing a pet or grandparent, but I wanted to show a child struggling as she watches a much-loved adult grieving after a loss. I aimed to keep the tone light, yet sensitive and show how children often want to help, but don’t know how. I hope the story fosters conversations about death and dying, grief, friendship and kindness.

You are well known for your rhyming picture books, but Grace and Mr Milligan is written in prose. Why did you decide to write this story in prose?

I love writing in rhyme, however I thought prose was a more appropriate choice for the story of Grace and Mr Milligan. The narrative is gentle and touches on some sensitive themes, and I wanted the reader to be able to pause and reflect on the story as the action unfolds, rather than be driven forward by the rhythm of a rhyming text.

Grace and Mr Milligan explores themes including death and grief, but the story is not sombre. Was this intentional?

Grace and Mr Milligan touches on death and grief, but the focus is not on Charlie’s death, but on young Grace’s compassion and kindness. Her love for Mr Milligan shines through, and the primary theme is the healing power of friendship.

How does the illustrator, Pip Kruger, bring your story to life?

Pip’s lively, bright illustrations balance the pathos surrounding Charlie’s death. The colours used are sometimes subdued, but never dark or morose, as the story emphasises the strong bond between Grace and Mr Milligan. The illustrations also enhance the readers’ understanding of the characters. Grace’s appearance and accessories point to her Asian heritage. Her dress sense is cute and endearing. Mr Milligan loves wearing Hawaiian shirts and shorts, reflecting his colourful personality. The visual details in the book have been carefully chosen, even down to Mr Milligan’s retro floral wallpaper.

What draws you to write for young children?

I love telling stories, both verbally and in writing. Stories are vital, particularly for children. Apart from the importance of developing literacy, stories help to enhance children’s understanding of and empathy for others, by introducing them to experiences and people they might never encounter in real life. Stories also encourage curiosity and bring enjoyment and hope. If I can inject a little joy and hope into children’s lives, I’m happy.

How would you like your readers to contact you?






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