Anemone is not the Enemy
Anna McGregor
Publisher: Scribble Kids' Books
ISBN: 9781922310118
Awards Year: 2021
Category: Book of the Year: Early Childhood
The publisher says...

‘I’m trying to make friends, not enemies. So why do I always sting everyone?’ 

Anemone lives alone in the rock pool. The tide comes in and the tide goes out. All Anemone wants is a friend, but friends are hard to make when you accidentally sting everyone who comes near you. Perhaps Clownfish has a solution to the problem...

A funny tale of mishap, misunderstanding, and the search for true friendship in an ocean rockpool.

The author says...

The idea for Anemone is Not the Enemy began with the title. I felt like there was a story there. Still, it wasn't until one day, on a flight up to Brisbane, I looked out the window down at the coastline and had the idea of the tide rising and falling in a rock pool as a unique plot driver which unlocked the whole story for me.

The ideas for this book were coming to me visually. So after the flight, I got out my travel watercolour palette and story-boarded my thoughts down on paper.

Once I had the basis of the story, I drafted up the dummy book by sketching in the Procreate app of my iPad Pro and composed the text in Indesign. I like to work fast to download ideas from my brain while it's fresh and exciting.

This book is like a play/theatre set, told almost purely in dialogue with only the characters and tide height changing from scene to scene. I built interest, pace and visual breaks by including two white and neon 'sting pages' and a dark 'despair page'. The final spread shows the rock pool zoomed out – revealing to the reader the answer to Anemone's earlier questions about the ocean beyond.

As luck would have it, soon after I drafted this dummy, Scribble (my now publisher) invited me to pitch ideas. This book was one of the dummy books I showed to them, and (lucky for me) they liked it on the spot.

With Scribbles' guidance, the finished art was completed digitally in Procreate/iPad Pro and finished off in Photoshop, a necessary step since the book is printed in five colours; CMYK and neon Pantone pink.

I hope that readers of this book will discover that if you can empathise with this little sea-creature, you can empathise with people you encounter that may struggle socially. I also hope this book will lead to greater curiosity about coastal rock pools. It's a fascinating world of its own, and I've included some facts on the last page for curious young minds.

The CBCA judges say...

Beautifully designed, this book features a vibrant, neon pink on the cover, and throughout the book; including the bold endpapers. With a tongue-twisting title, readers will be drawn immediately to the themes of friendship, loneliness, habitats, and sea creatures. Set in a rock pool, the story extends the reader’s experience and understandings about the symbiotic relationship between anemones and clownfish. Readers will also see how anemones deal with predators, learn a little about hermit crabs, and see how tides work. This information is cleverly conveyed through the narrative, combined with wonderful illustrations, sophisticated design, and through the inclusion of fun facts at the end. The page layout is excellent with a balance of space and text. Told with quirky humour, the story is a series of dialogues and comments between the sea creatures, similar to speech bubbles, making it fun to read aloud.

The Reading Time reviewers say...
Click here to read the Reading Time review.
Teaching Resources for this book...

The publisher has generously made activity sheets available for this book. Click on the icon below to view these resources.