The best-selling husband and wife team of David Soman and Jacky Davis share a peek behind the scenes of the eighth book in their beloved Ladybug Girl series, Ladybug Girl and the Best Ever Playdate.
You would think, with all the things young kids have to learn in life—putting on jackets, brushing their teeth, not jumping on the dog—something like having a friend would be the easy part. But that isn’t always the case.
Exploring the theme of friendship takes a writer and illustrator through all manner of emotional terrain. The loveliness of a good friend makes one feel understood and appreciated, and with a friendship being one of the very most wonderful aspects of life, it can be very disconcerting if a friendship goes awry.
In Ladybug Girl and the Best Ever Playdate, we looked at Lulu, aka Ladybug Girl, and Finney as they navigate a playdate that doesn’t go well. We knew we needed something that would act as the catalyst for Lulu and Finney’s difficulties. Thinking back on our children’s early playdates, it wasn’t hard to remember how important toys were to them, and what a central role toys played in their social lives. We all remember that feeling of wanting a toy so badly, and the strange mix of feelings we could get if one of our friends had the very toy we wanted. So all we had to do was invent a toy that would, well, quite simply, be the best toy ever. As that is a tall order, we let our daughter make a list of things she would want in a toy, and the Rolly-Roo was born.
In doing the illustrations, the challenge was to find a way to show how Lulu and Finney were not having a bad time, but not really connecting either, and to have that contrast with the fun they have when they really start to engage with each other.
The trouble begins when Ladybug Girl’s focus on the toy gets in the way of playing with Finny.
But when the Rolly breaks and the girls are able to fix it . . . they really start having fun!
Ultimately we wanted to show that the best things in life aren’t things, and that being creative with a friend, even with the inevitable bumps along the way, can provide an opportunity to work things out and to make a friendship stronger and more vibrant.