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Behind the Book Blog: Doggo and Pupper

last updated 30 March 2021


Doggo and Pupper (Macmillan) graced shelves last week, and has received much deserved praise. Bright Artist Charlie Alder’s “bark-out-loud illustrations” (School Library Journal) bring a human-like sincerity to three unlikely friends Dog, Pupper, and Cat. Nestled in her at-home studio over a cup of coffee, Alder brought this story to life through purposeful expressions and body language. We had the pleasure of learning about all it took to create this book with the one and only Charlie Alder!

This title has received so much hype already! How does it feel that so many are loving this book and praising your art?

It’s so wonderful! The team at Macmillan are amazing, and Katherine’s fabulous story is the real inspiration behind the characters, it’s been a total joy to work on this project. Macmillan put together an awesome trailer to celebrate the book!

What was your artistic process in creating the illustrations for this project? Tell us about your experience from beginning to end!

I try not to think too much about the characters until I’ve read the manuscript, that way I can get a feel for their personalities. With this project, the characters jumped into my head straight away as I started reading and remained pretty much the same from sketch to final artwork. I start by scribbling LOTS of faces, bodies, expressions, and features that will make the character unique. Doggo had to look older, a little bit weary and rough around the edges. I wanted Pupper to be exuberant, cause there’s no holding him back. I wanted to illustrate Pupper as if you could almost feel his energy jumping off the pages. Cat has seen it all, nothing surprises her, she’s a cool Cat!

Fun Fact #1: I always pull the same faces as the character I’m sketching! I’m not sure if other illustrators do this too, but it always makes me chuckle when I think how I must look! Once the characters have been agreed by the author, editor and design department then I start to work on the colors. We tried lots of variations but in the end a conventional colour palette really seemed to match the characters.

Fun Fact #2: You will never see a human face in Doggo and Pupper. The story is told from a dog’s perspective!

All Pets

Beginning sketches of Doggo, Pupper, and Cat

Doggo and Pupper focuses on the meaning of letting loose in life, and how our friends can sometimes bring out the most fun in us! How did you illustrate these meaningful aspects in your art?

Doggo and Pupper are very human-like, so all conventional animal traits fly out of the window! Their fun antics and emotions are very human, as reflected in their facial expressions and body language. I hope this allows the reader to pick up on the fun aspects along with the subtle touching moments.


Where did you get most of your work done when working on this project?

I’m very lucky to have a lovely studio in my house. I grab a coffee… or two… or three (I love coffee!), put on some music and start sketching! I work digitally so I use a tablet at my desk, or my iPad if I’m on the move or want a change of scenery.


Charlie's at home workspace

What message do you hope young readers receive when reading this story and looking at your art?

The main message I hope readers take away is to always be yourself. Don’t change just because you think someone wants you to act differently. You are the best version of you! I also hope the fun moments that Doggo, Pupper and Cat have make readers laugh.

Do you have any pets of your own? If so, did they inspire your art in any way for this title?

We don’t have any pets at the moment, (much to my son’s frustration!), but we are definitely a doggo loving household! As a child I had two, Butch, a beagle, and Barney, a Westie. Both had completely unique, crazy, adorable personalities, and I often think of them when I’m sketching dogs!


Charlie with her childhood pets, Butch and Barney

What does being a part of an agency mean to you?

Being part of an agency means SO much. I’ve been with Bright for 16 or 17 years now and quite simply wouldn’t be where I am without them. Everyone is so supportive, from fellow illustrators to the agents to the admin team. It’s far more than a working relationship, I’ve made some very dear friends. These relationships have become a real lifeline over the past year.

Thank you for reading our March Behind the Book blog! Keep an eye out each month for more Behind the Books to get to learn about awesome Bright reads! Missed last month’s blog? Read more about I Love Us, A Book About Family illustrated by Luisa Uribe.


To work with Charlie click here!

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