Paws for Thought: Questions with Sarah Webb & Alan Nolan

Sarah Webb and Alan Nolan have recently produced Animal Crackers, an enchanting new picture book bursting with facts about the animal kingdom. The Dublin Book Festival team were lucky enough to be able to chat with them this week and ask them a few question from followers.

Alannah Jones: Are there any animals in Animal Crackers that you had never heard of before?

SW: When I was researching Animal Crackers I found LOTS of animals I’d never heard of before. But it was Alan who told me about the immortal jellyfish – a jellyfish that never dies! It’s a small creature with a bright red stomach and it lives in the seas around the Mediterranean and Japan. When it has run out of food or has been attacked instead of dying it can turn back into its baby state – the polyp stage. And then it grows into an adult jellyfish again. Amazing! Imagine if we humans could do that – adult to baby to adult again!

AN: Hi Alannah! Love your name! I had never heard of the caracal, but they are the most beautiful cat – they look like a mix between a house cat and a lynx. I think the one I drew in Animal Crackers looks strangely like Freddie Mercury…!

Sam Ivers: What is the most unusual animal fact you’ve ever heard?

SW: I’m fascinated by Tardigrades, also known as water bears or moss piglets. They are teeny tiny animals – you could fit 3 or 4 of them on the top of a pin – and they are amazingly hardy. They can survive in deep, deep oceans, the hottest deserts and volcanic mud. They can even survive in space – they have been on several space missions! They can survive for 30 years with no food or water. They go into a special state called cryptobiosis and wait until the conditions are better for their survival. Another skill that would be handy for other animals, even humans!
The animal world truly is amazing!

AN: Hi Sam! The most unusual animal fact I’ve ever heard is that armadillos, when attacked, can jump 1 metre into the air to confuse and frighten predators. The armadillo is so low to the ground and has such short legs, I can still hardly believe this is possible! No wonder they look like they’re wearing crash helmets…

#AskanAuthor is an initiative at the Dublin Book Festival that encourages our audience to pose questions to the authors at DBF 2020. We may be going digital but we want to make sure that our audience don’t miss out on direct engagement with the authors. 

You are invited to submit questions to each week’s chosen author via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Email. Create a tweet or post containing your question and include the hashtag #AskAnAuthor. Alternatively, you can send us an email at with #AskAnAuthor in the subject line.