Tag Archives: poodles

A Visit With Toby

In the spring of 2015, I saw an announcement of a mentor program offered by the Nevada chapter of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I started reading about the program, then reading seriously, and finally applied and was accepted to the program. I came out of the six month experience with a vastly expanded and improved graphic novel, an agent, and a bunch of new friends, writers and illustrators all! I expected to work hard, get my butt kicked in the process, and hopefully come out with a manuscript that might be viable.

I did not expect to emerge on the other side of the program with talented and loyal friends whose work I could celebrate and share, and who would share mine when the time comes. And so, when publication of Hazel Mitchell‘s new book Toby was announced, and she said she was looking for blogs to visit during the book’s launch, I asked the pandas if they would be interested in a visit, and they all said yes!

They also said, would Hazel bring cuppycakes and maybe a box of Binky Bars, and some boo beer, and I said I’d check. Pinky offered to interview Toby, and I said “yes”, although not without some trepidation. Pinky never does anything without some ulterior motives, and Toby is kind of a shy poodle, but she promised she would be kind, so I said okay. Don’t let me down, Pinky!

Keep reading, because at the end of this post, we are announcing how you can win a bunch of really cool stuff from Toby and Hazel!

It's good to have friends...even ones like Pinky!

It’s good to have friends…even ones like Pinky!

Princess Pinky: Today we have a very special guest at the Panda Chronicles! Welcome, Toby. I understand you are not a Panda.

Toby: I don’t think I’m a Panda. I don’t have any black spots. Except when I roll in the mud. Is a Panda a Poodle with black spots, kind of thing?

Hi, I'm Toby, and almost as cute as a panda!

Hi, I’m Toby, and almost as cute as a panda!

PP: No, we’re not poodles, although we’re fluffy like you are. We are much more special than that. So …what are you doing here?

Toby: I’m promoting. (Which is not as rude as it sounds.) I got a book. (Which is not a disease.) My people made it with a place called Candlewick Press. People are pretty useful in general. Especially with those can opener things. They are VERY good with those.

PP: I don’t know about can openers. hmmm…I’ll have to look into that.
Oh! Right! You have a new book coming out. Is it about me? I’m running for president, you know.



Toby: No! It’s about ME! But I hear you might be in a book, too? What’s President? Do you get treats? I like treats, pepperoni is best. Do you like pepperoni?

PP: I’m hoping when I am president, I can have any kind of treat I want. when I was a baby, mommee stole all my treats.  The president is like the boss of everyone and you have to do what they say.

So, if it’s not about me, could you tell us a little bit about your book?

Toby: Well, it’s 40 pages and it’s  paper and it costs $16.99. Oh wait, my people are saying you mean the STORY inside the book. Arf. So, it’s about me, but me with a different family (which is called fic-tion-al-i-zing, which is hard to say). There’s a boy and a dad and they’ve just moved house and the boy is lonely and he rescues me and I’m scared and I’m a bit naughty and dad is mad and I might have to go back to the shelter and that would be sad. My people say I just used too many conjunctions. I think that is uncalled for. I’m not an editor after all! I HAVE an editor, she is called Liz Bicknell and she sent me treats. So, she’s cool. WOOF!

PP: Do you mean to tell me that there are dogs and cats that no one wants?


So many dogs to choose from! Pandas never have to worry about being adopted!

Toby: People are very hard to understand sometimes. Everyone should want their dog or they shouldn’t be allowed to have them. Only sometimes things happen to the people and they can’t keep the dog and that’s sad, too. But cats, I completely get that. Only don’t let my people’s cat, Sleep, read this. He’s ok. Kind of. But, well, you know. Right?

PP: Well, I can tell you, that never happens with pandas, but I soooo agree about cats! I am having problems with a cat named Mittens, but I…um…fixed him good a few weeks ago. So tell us a little about your real life…who do you live with now?

From "Toby" by Hazel Mitchell, by permission of Candlewick Press

From “Toby” by Hazel Mitchell, by permission of Candlewick Press

Toby: Pandas must be VERY special. Almost as special as Poodles? I live with my people. There’s a girl people, called Hazel Mitchell, and a boy people, called Mike Mitchell. We live in a house in Maine. I have a step sister called Lucy. She’s MASSIVE. They say she’s a standard poodle, but a poodle that size is just unnatural. Anyway, we have this cat called Sleep. He does that a lot. Sleep, I mean, goes to Sleep. (Get it?) Sometimes he does it in my bed. That’s annoying and rude. Which is why I can understand people giving cats away. Right?

Sketches for Toby by Hazel Mitchell

Sketches for Toby by Hazel Mitchell

PP: Cats can be very rude and annoying! What’s your favorite food? mine is cuppycakes with honey frosting!

Toby: I think I said already, pepperoni. Weren’t you listening? Oh, are Pandas hard of hearing? Never knew that. Oh wait, you have buds in. No wonder you can’t hear me. I quite like cupcakes, but I like chocolate frosting. Which is bad for me, apparently. And I like burgers. Now I am dribbling. You got a tissue?

PP: You weren’t talking about me so I forgot to listen. Is there anything else you want the readers of the Panda Chronicles to know? You really should do something about the drooling thing, by the way!!

Toby: Always look after your dogs! And cats! And Pandas. Although I guess Pandas got it made. I heard that they fly first class. That must be some big bird they got for you guys. Hey, I also saw a weird video of Pandas dating online with a load of people with cameras watching. Isn’t that illegal?

PP: Yeah, pandas kinda got it made, except for maybe the endangered thing and loss of habitat, and some of those photographers are really rude! They sort of have shelters for pandas too, in China. We get to fly in planes with our picture on them and can have all the peanuts we want!

And , oh yeah…where can they buy your book?

Toby: They can buy it in all good bookstores. In the High Street, or the Mall or on the Interweb. Or just contact my people. That’s why I have ‘em. To sell my books. WOOF! You want to hang out again sometime, Princess? You’re kind of cute.

PP: Yeah! we should totally do lunch or something at the Pinky House when I am president. (after I am elected, I am having the White House painted pink!) I’ll have my people call your people. Thanks for coming today, Toby, and remember to vote for Pinky! The only panda you will ever want for president! And buy Toby’s book! Dog treats don’t grow on trees!

Hey fans of making America Fluffy again:

Toby has offered us some really great swag, not to mention a BOOK! and we thought we would have a little contest to see who gets it! So, you have a week to make a comment on this post, and we will do a random drawing of the names of all the commenters to see who gets all this great stuff! Comments must be made by Midnight PDT September 21, 2016. The stamp is really cool! Sorry to our readers outside the US. We can only ship to US addresses.

Oh man! Look at all this great swag!

Oh man! Look at all this great swag!


When a young boy and his father move from one house to another, they decide to adopt a dog from the local rescue shelter. But their chosen dog, Toby, is having a tough time adjusting to his new life outside the shelter—howling all night, hiding fearfully from his new humans, forgetting where to go to the bathroom, and chasing a ball through the flower bed. The boy has promised to train his new companion, and he’s trying his best, but Dad is starting to get exasperated. Will Toby ever feel comfortable with his new family and settle into his forever home, or will Dad decide he’s not the right dog for them after all?
A heartwarming story about the growing bond between a child and a new pet—inspired by the author’s experience with a rescue dog of the same name.

Bio: Hazel Mitchell has always loved drawing and still cannot be reliably left alone with a pencil. She has illustrated many books for children including Imani’s Moon, One Word Pearl, Animally and Where Do Fairies Go When It Snows? ‘Toby’ is her author-illustrator debut from Candlewick Press. Her work has received several awards and been recognized by Bank Street Books, Learning Magazine, Reading is Fundamental,  Foreword Reviews, NYCReads365, Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles Charlotte/Mecklenburg , Chicago and Maine State libraries among others. Originally from England, where she attended art-college and served in the Royal Navy, she now lives in Maine with her poodles Toby and Lucy and a cat called Sleep. She still misses British fish and chips, but is learning to love lobster. Find out more about her at http://www.hazelmitchell.com and is represented by Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown Ltd., NYC.

Links for Toby:



Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TgIF-6Yo1o

Buy it here http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780763680930 and here http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/toby-hazel-mitchell/1123282586.

A big thank you to Hazel  and Toby for coming by to visit us at The Panda Chronicles! Remember to pet your cat or dog (or panda) and if you are looking to give a forever home to a furry family member, check your local animal welfare group. Two of my favorites are The Whidbey Animal Improvement Foundation on Whidbey Island and the Whatcom Humane Society in Bellingham WA.

All images of Toby (the book) and Toby (the dog) are courtesy of Hazel Mitchell and Candlewick Press. Thanks guys!