QiQi is a squirrel. "Hao Qi" means being curious in Chinese. So we name the squirrel QiQi.
It has been almost two years since our encounter with a squirrel trapped in a chimney. That was the summer when we travelled to Kimberley and stayed at our friend Erica's cottage. A squirrel fell into the chimney in the kitchen and screeched, in pain I thought at the time, the whole night. My imagination ran wild: an injured bird, a hurt squirrel, bloody feather and mangled fur? Erica had to call in her neighbour to help. We were happy that we freed a very scared but healthy squirrel after several hours of dismantling the kitchen fan under the chimney. The kids had a frenzy trying to chase the squirrel out of the house. It was all for a good laugh at the end and Erica said: why don't you write about it. Here I am: two years later, I finally finished the project. And I owe Erica a big THANKS!
As always, the writing part is easy. I wrote the story shortly after the trip. The art work and the video production always take a long time. We had a "draft" hand-made story book before I asked Emilyn to re-do all the illustrations. That proved to be a challenge for an 8 years old to keep a consistent design and style. She had to learn how to draw a squirrel from different angles with different actions. She settled on a grey squirrel, the same kind that frequent our backyard, and researched the habitat and food habit of this creature. Quite a process and an accomplishement for Emilyn. The voice recording also took a while as the story lines are longer and more complex linguistically. Fortunately, days of recording got Chantal, the 4 years old, interested in the production and she sang the opening song with all the enthusiasm she had. Perfect sound effect I was looking for.
This is the spring break week so I am very pleased that this story is finally on the blog for all the kids to enjoy. I am still busy with the upcoming publication of my first series of story books. Camera in hand, the kids and I are in search of flowers in the woods or gardens. Every time we run into a squirrel, we say "hey look, QiQi is busy with his secret mission".