I first started KAKA at the start of 2019 with a goal to help a young girl learn about the toilet. I self-published the ‘Down the Bend’ book some months later. By the end of the year, I had completed the second book, ‘Firetruck’, focused on bed-wetting. I began the third KAKA book and was hit by a revelation.
KAKA’s format is simple. The style is simple so that even I, an amateur illustrator could manage. I was motivated to help children in this transition. KAKA made it possible for me to gain some publishing ‘wins’ at a time when I didn’t have the time or capacity to invest in a larger project.
With only a few hours here and a few hours there, it really is possible to create something!
The third KAKA book needed to be simple yet strong. KAKA and her silly friend Billy would get themselves into mischievous situations and learn about the things NOT to do. I think you can see where this book is going? A book of short stories that covered multiple toilet scenarios.
Now, I have been active with the topic of sustainability for the best part of fifteen years. However, I hadn’t yet made a direct link with sustainability in the first two books. I sketched out some storyboards for the mini-stories in Book III and it became more and more clear that sustainability and hygiene were in fact core elements of healthy toilet behaviour, and yes, also sustainability. This motivated me even more!
Going into production, I needed to create a tree for one of the mini-stories. In the storyboard, it had been a small symbol of being and playing outside. Once I had tied in the sustainability theme, the tree grew. And grew.
I remembered a significant symbol from my childhood. My mother embroidered a version of this tree which hung on a wall close to our dinner table. It is called, ‘the tree of life’.
And so, KAKA’s tree of life kept on growing in strength. The detail in this tree deepened. Wow, trees really are important! The irony that I was using paper to create a tree, doubled the impact.
So, here I was, I had spent a year paper-cutting a character called KAKA (and her friends). Finally I had returned to sustainability.
KAKA: Silly Billy for me is now by far the most important book yet in this series. The whole series fits under Sustainable Development Goal 6, “Ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”
With this clearer purpose, I feel more able to talk confidently about why I had invested time in toilet behaviour books. Sometimes, you just have to go through the sh*t to get to the where you need to go. Thank you KAKA!