My Five Favourite Bits In Our Books

Hello there! I’m David. I’m a co-founder of Wonderbly, and the writer of lots of our books. This means that I probably know more about what’s in them than anyone else.

Our books are more complicated than normal kids’ books, because they’re personalised. They’re full of tricks and techniques, to (hopefully) make kids go Wow. Also, we put lots of care and attention-to-detail into our books, so there are lots of little surprises which people might miss.

So I thought it’d be fun to share some of my favourite, not-everyone-knows-about things that are hidden in some of our books. Ready? Let’s go!

The Cavity Filling Caramel Wrapper in My Golden Ticket

In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, there are many, many types of sweets mentioned. When we made My Golden Ticket (our book is set in Willy Wonka’s factory), we got to have lots of fun with these Dahl creations. This is probably my favourite – creating the packaging for Cavity Filling Caramels, ingredients, slogan and all.

The Aardvark’s Food Stall in Found My Friends

In Found My Friends, a hapless Aardvark is experiencing a very slow day on its food stall. Why? Because it has made a rather unfortunate spelling mistake in its signage. The good news is that the boy or girl in the story has a letter in their name which is perfectly suited to rectify the mistake. The bad news? We had to think of 26 misspelt signs (one for each letter of the alphabet). Not only that, the misspelling had to somehow make the food sound revolting. This, I soon found out, is easier said than done. It took AGES. Here are some before-and-after examples of the Aardvark’s predicament:

Me and My Colleagues in Where Are You…?

We make our books all working together in a big studio – writers, art directors, illustrators, producers, coders, everyone. We get to talk to each other, and look at each other. Which is great, especially when Marija, the illustrator of Where Are You…?, decides to actually put us in the final spread of the book. And here we are!

The No-Gendered-Pronouns in A Letter For The Littlest Bear

When we made Littlest Bear, we wanted it to be a book which could reflect any kind of family. But families come in all shapes and sizes, sometimes with a mum and dad, sometimes with just a mum, or just a dad, or neither, or two dads, or two mums, plus two sisters, or two brothers, or one of each… You get the idea.

We wanted to make it easy for anyone to create their own, unique family make-up. So we decided to turn the family members into bears – genderless bears. You can pick the name of the bear (e.g. Daddy Bear) but you don’t need to specify gender. One bear can be daddy bear, or mummy bear, or auntie bear, or any member of the family.

But this did mean that the story had to be written in a genderless way, too – we couldn’t refer to the bears as ‘he’ or ‘she’, ‘him’ or ‘her’, because we don’t ask for gender. It’s quite hard to write a story without using those kinds of words, but we did it. Here’s a before-and-after of the story, with gendered pronoun, and without, to show how we did it.

The Message of Love in The Wondrous Road Ahead

I didn’t write The Wondrous Road Ahead, it was written by our awesome colleague Julia Gray. And it is beautifully written, especially the message of love near the end. In all our books, we try to make the child it’s for feel incredibly special, unique and loved – and this passage sums that up better than anything. Thanks Julia!