Katy Hudson Q&A – Mindful Mr Sloth
September 15th 2021
What is Mindful Mr. Sloth about?
Mindful Mr. Sloth is about a little girl called Sasha who has a habit of rushing about everywhere and who is very enthusiastic in everything she does. One day she makes friends with a sloth, Mr. Sloth. He likes to do things very very slowly, like most sloths do. The two become the best of friends and in doing so, Sasha learns that there can be benefits from having a friend that likes to take his time.
What inspired you to write it?
Given the context of the pandemic my editor (Christianne) and I thought a story about how to practice the basic ideas around mindfulness would be a useful tool for young readers and a way to introduce the concept.
Which came first, the story or the characters?
Like with most of my stories, it started with a drawing of a sloth. He immediately looked very wise, an old soul who could be a very clumsy but a loveable friend. I was keen to introduce a child to my next book and Sasha arrived from many, many sketches I did of a little girl. I enjoy opposites and thought an energetic child would make a great ying to Mr.Sloth's slow moving yang. I was excited to create a world for the two characters to live in together and the story came about from figuring out how the relationship between the two would work.
Are you more like Sasha or Mr. Sloth?
I can see a bit of myself in both Sasha and Mr Sloth. I'm guilty of rushing about and not taking time to enjoy and really immerse myself in what I'm doing. Often losing interest too quickly, I'd quite like a friend like Mr. Sloth to remind me to slow down and breathe! Equally I think I have some Mr. Sloth's sleepy tendencies. I was pregnant with my second child when writing this book so I think I felt a strong affiliation with slow-moving, tired animals at the time.
How do you practice mindfulness?
I did a lot of yoga whilst writing Mr. Sloth, it was mainly online classes during lockdown with my 3 year old daughter joining in. I'm not sure we got any of the poses right but we enjoyed giving them a go! The main thing we took away from it and what we still practice now is the slow breathing. Whenever things get a little overwhelming it's important to step back from whatever is happening, go outside (if you can) and breathe.
Why do you think mindfulness is so important?
Given the current context of the pandemic, I think it's more important than ever to give children tools to cope with feelings of overwhelm and anxiety. Learning basic ways to calm oneself can only help them cope with these big feelings as they grow.
What do you want readers to take away from you book?
It's good to make friends with others that are different from you, to embrace their different speeds and to see things from their alternative perspective.
Will we be seeing Sasha and Mr Sloth again in the future?
Hopefully, yes! I'm currently writing new ideas for their next story together.
Which books from your own childhood have inspired you?
Being an Illustrator I think I read most books for their pictures! I was a big fan of Shirley Hughes and still am. I had a Shirley Barber book about fairies that I loved looking at all the little details for, same for Jill Barklem's Brambly Hedge series. I enjoyed and still do enjoy books that tell more of the story in the illustrations, that give more clues to the different characters’ personalities and the world they live in.
Mindful Mr Sloth is out now. Find it at: https://peters.co.uk/book-page/9781398216334.