I’m Erin Dealey, and I write books for kids. I’m a teacher, presenter, rhymer, blogger, and proud Drama Mama.

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Five Questions with author/illustrator Estrela Lourenço + WALKIES: A DOG’S TALE = Happy #BookBirthday!

May 14, 2024

Today we’re celebrating the #BookBirthday of WALKIES: A DOG’S TALE a wonderful, wordless picture book by Estrela Lourenço (Page Street Kids). I love this oh-so relatable rainy day story and the movement and fun in Estrela’s illustrations. But don’t take my word for it:

“This soggy and exuberant romp would pair beautifully with another atmospheric, near-wordless canine adventure: Doug Salati’s sweltering and joyous Caldecott winner Hot Dog (2022). A wet and wonderful tale of pet ownership.”


“Hand this to children when the rain comes in and the screens come out.”


Pronunciation note: Keep the “L” sound in Estrela and say the “ç” in Lourenço as an “S” sound! 

Let’s ask some questions!

Q 1. You mention in your youtube video that your dog Chewie inspired this fun, “soggy exuberant romp.” (Booklist) Can you tell us more? Might it have also been a rainy day in Ireland?

Estrela Lourenço: I love walking and I only realized that after having my dogs. I had two family dogs in Portugal called Hushi and Nico who I loved to walk everyday when I was a teenager (but the walks were not very long as my town was a little small at the time).

When I moved to Ireland I didn’t have a dog for about 6 years because it’s hard to have one while you are renting in the capital of Dublin so I stopped walking for the fun of it. When my partner and I finally got a chance to buy our own house, we adopted Chewie, a crazy energetic 3-month-old rescue Collie.

Chewie, the star of WALKIES.

I realized pretty soon that not only I loved to walk again, but that I truly love VERY long walks in the parks and green suburbs of Dublin. No matter what my mood was at the beginning of the walk, I would come home more relaxed and happier –  like I’d just had an hour or so of  mindfulness during my dog walking.


The walk that inspired my picture book WALKIES happened during one day’s lunch time when, for some reason, I was feeling pretty down (I honestly can’t remember why) and it was a bit rainy because it was February.

Interior art from WALKIES: A DOG’S TALE by Estrela Lourenço (Page Street Kids).

As I stopped each time Chewie stopped to sniff a flower or a tree, I started to slow down and focus on what he was doing and less on what was going on in my head.

Our slow walk in the park allowed me to stop and look around more, to be present in the moment and then, slowly, I started feeling better. That character transformation I saw in myself, from the moment I left the house to when I came back, inspired the story arc for WALKIES. The character doesn’t have the same conflict that I had that day, but I believe the transformation to a happier character after a dog walk is the exact same.

Techniques (and Time Crunches) of Animation Work

Q 2. How has your work in animation, for example as a storyboard artist, influenced your children’s book creative process, specifically in creating a wordless book like this?

Estrela Lourenço: I absolutely believe I could not be the author and artist I am today without my 14 years of experience in the animation industry. Working side by side with amazing artists (that I can fortunately call my friends) made me grow up so much.

I was always in big teams, surrounded by people that gave their time to teach me or even to just push me artistically as I would learn more about their work. Besides that, I believe being a character animator first, helped me so much with posing, expression and character consistency through each series (as animators we get so many notes about keeping a character on model, you wouldn’t believe it!).

We also had to be very flexible and change our style of drawing for each project we would be on – one could have a more adult, realistic look and the next one, a very cartoony look,  with hyper energetic posing and movement.

Becoming a Storyboard Artist was the ultimate help I needed to be able to, later become a visual storyteller in Children’s Books. Again, I was very grateful to be working side by side with directors and supervisors who would give me their notes, teach me about story, composition, character motivations, story arcs and themes. I learned so much in a fast paced job where you have to deliver a lot of drawings per day that might or might not be scrapped for the sake of story. Those years gave me so many of the tools I feel so lucky to be using today.

Interior art from WALKIES: A DOG’S TALE by Estrela Lourenço (Page Street Kids).


Q 3. What are the challenges of creating a wordless picture book? Did you use any mentor texts? Do you imagine the dialog?

Estrela Lourenço: I actually feel much more secure and at home when creating wordless picture books. First, because English is not my first language, I have struggled many times to convey my ideas and to put them into text – I always felt I was writing like a very junior writer (but I am still learning, that hasn’t stopped).

But also, I come from an industry that produces a lot of films for animation festivals. We watched quite a lot of silent short films, sometimes as an art form of its own, and other times, because actors and sound recording are expensive (especially for student films). So I first trained to create wordless films, and I feel quite comfortable imagining and creating my books the same way!

For WALKIES, I never created dialogue, but I wrote the story beats and the story arc I wanted to achieve first, then started thumbnailing my story, to get, later, a full rough sketched dummy (the equivalent of the storyboards I used to create in animation).

“I was never very good [at drawing]…” EL

Q 4. Were you always drawing as a kid? When did you first decide to become an illustrator?  

Estrela Lourenço: I always drew as a kid, especially as my best friend and my brother used to draw really well, so I had the inspiration to do it too. I was never very good, but I loved creating little comics and photocopying them, using my grandparents photocopy machine at their job.

“Comics I drew as a kid.” EL

I decided I wanted to become an illustrator when I finally realized it was even a possibility, after a few years in the animation Industry.

Podcast Recommendations–and more!

Q 5.  What’s your favorite Writing / Illustration podcast?

Estrela Lourenço: Oh I listen to so many, I’m completely addicted to podcasts and youtube channels that have anything to do with illustration and writing for children’s books, so my apologies for the long list! 

My current favorites are:

  • 3 Point Perspective” with Jake Parker, Lee White and Will Terry
  • The Children’s Book Review: Growing Readers Podcast” with Bianca Schulze
  • The Illustration Podcast” with Giuseppe Castellano
  • SCBWI Podcast
  • The Yarn” with Travis Yonker and Colby Sharp
  • Children’s Book Podcast” with Matthew Winner
  • Reading with your Kids” with Jed Doherty
  • Picture Booking” with Nick Patton
  • Picture Book Look” with Kirsti Call and Kim Chaffee
  • Book Friends Forever” with Alvina Ling and Grace Lin and many more I can find! 

I also love finding many more Youtube Channels by other creators like Anoosha Syed and my own literary agency Bookends with Jessica Faust and my amazing agent, James McGowan.

What an incredible list!

Thank you so much to Estrela Lourenço for joining us today,

all the way from Dublin, Ireland I might add–


Happy Book Birthday, WALKIES!

To learn more about the work of Estrela Lourenço,

check out her web site: https://estrelalourenco.pt/home

and follow her on social media:

Instagram: estrela.lourenco

TwitterX: @LourencoEstrela

Up next: Mia Wenjen’s BOXER BABY BATTLES BEDTIME (Eifrig Publishing)

Illustrated by Kai Gietzen.

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