C. Halpern: For what ages is Merry Myrrh,
The Christmas Bat intended, and what
did you do to address the specific needs of
this age group?
Regan W.H. Macaulay: “My publisher,
Guardian Angel Publishing, tends to categorize
picture books like Merry Myrrh as intended
for ages 4-7. Personally I think there’s
a little bit of wiggle room on both ends,
particularly for very young children who love
to listen to bedtime stories and pore over
the artwork. Christmas is a special time for
many people of all ages, but there’s
much about it that’s extra special for
the very young. I hope I am showing these
youngsters the wonder of Christmas through
the eyes of a very young and innocent animal,
full of awe at the beauty that surrounds him,
which is meant to commemorate the holiday.”
C. Halpern: What is the message you hope readers
get from the book?
Regan: “First, I hope the joy
Myrrh feels that comes from Christmas reflects
how the children who read/listen to the story
feel, too. I also hope they see that the things
that touch our hearts can touch others as
well—including those who are very different
from us. And perhaps they’ll look at
bats differently—not just as scary little
creatures reserved strictly for holidays such
as Halloween. The compassion the farm family
shows Myrrh, rather than fear, is something
important to teach children, I think.
C. Halpern: A bat seems like an unusual topic
for a Christmas book. Where did you get the
Regan: It’s a story I’ve
been toying with since high school, actually.
When I lived in a particularly lovely older
house in Oshawa (Ontario) with my mom and
my step-dad, occasionally a Little Brown bat
would find its way inside from somewhere up
in the mostly inaccessible attic. They would
be rather discombobulated, of course, and
it got me wondering what it would be like
for a bat to get caught up in a Christmas
tree, with all its lights and ornaments. Likely
very confusing and overwhelming, despite also
being a beautiful sight. And when I was a
child, I would often peer right into our Christmas
trees over the years, trying to picture what
it would be like to be very small and seeing
it from the inside out. Merry Myrrh sort of
unspooled from there.
C. Halpern: How did you find an artist to
illustrate your work?
I’ve worked with Alex Zgud on two of
my other picture books—Beverlee
Beaz the Brown Burmese and Sloth
the Lazy Dragon (this one’s also
published by Guardian Angel Publishing). I
met her when we both worked for a couple of
years in a pet shop called Pet Cuisine and
Accessories, where I learned she had been
an OCAD student (Ontario College of Art and
Design), and it was her ambition to become
a tattoo artist, which she has accomplished.
I saw some of her artwork and instantly wanted
to work with her. I asked her if she’d
collaborate with me on my first picture book,
Beverlee, and she agreed and created sample
artwork for me to submit along with the manuscript
to publishers. She’s actually getting
very busy with her work, so I’m glad
she was able to find the time to finish Merry
Myrrh with me.
C. Halpern: How does this book compare to
your other children’s books?
Regan: As with all of my other books,
the main characters are animals. But this
is the first book I’ve written with
a holiday theme.
C. Halpern: What else would you like people
to know about this book?
Regan: There’s a short note
on the title page of Merry Myrrh that mentions
the troubles Little Brown (and other) bats
are facing with respect to White Nose disease.
I hope this encourages parents and children
to learn more about how they can help bats
like Myrrh, so they don’t become yet
another extinct species. Bats are critical
to our ecology—without them and similar
creatures, insect populations would grow out
of control. This is not the theme of the story,
but I do hope that the positive light in which
Merry Myrrh portrays bats causes a few more
hearts to soften towards them. They truly
are amazing creatures and deserve to survive
just like any other species.