Posted: October 28, 2013, 2:20 p.m. EDT
Retelling a Bible story is a difficult task. The creators of the book A Guinea Pig Nativity promise that it is the Christmas story as you’ve never seen it before, because guinea pigs are photographed in the "starring” roles.
The high-quality gift book features 24 full-color pictures that showcase guinea pigs in elaborate backdrops and costumes. Each photo fills a page and the opposite page contains text from the story. Eleven guinea pigs filled the roles of Mary, Joseph, Wise Men, angels and more. The book measures approximately 6.5 inches wide by 5.25 inches tall.
Seeing the book and its spectacular photos, we had to know more about it, so SmallAnimalChannel contacted Bloomsbury, the publisher, to get further details.
What was the inspiration for creating a book about the Nativity using guinea pigs?
Bloomsbury family and friends sending in pictures of their guinea pigs — we couldn't resist the idea of making our own book.
How long did it take to create the book, from concept to publication?
About a year.
Where did the guinea pigs featured in the photos come from?
Generous owners – some of whom had a connection to Bloomsbury, others who had seen our plea for cast members on the Bloomsbury Facebook page.
How did you determine which guinea pig would play which role?
It was very important to work out which guinea pigs would have scenes together — they had to get on well. The three kings, for example, are all old friends.
How did the guinea pigs seem to like "working”? Were there any tricks to getting them to pose?
They loved the sound of the camera shutter – it made them purr!
Were the photos all done in one photo session, or did it take several?
It took three different sessions to get all the pictures we needed.
Do you have any anecdotes about the photo session(s)?
They loved it when we put grass down for the field scenes. Normally they're very good at staying still but the grass made them very excitable. Putting down a towel for them to sit on seemed to be quite calming, for some reason.
The composition of the photos was intriguing, because it did not always just show the scene as viewed by a third party. Sometimes the camera gave the viewpoint of a character, such as Mary or an angel. Was this pre-planned, or did it emerge during the shoot?
We had a story-board prepared in advance! Some of those shots were pre-planned (the angel's apparition for example), others came about quite naturally as we were taking the pictures.
The props and backgrounds are quite effective. Were they all made specifically for the book, or were you able to purchase most of them?
They were custom-made by a pair of prop-stylists.
Is there any one photo you’re particularly proud of?
We love the ones where the guinea pigs are really engaged with the camera – the three kings before Herod are really expressive.
Crediting the guinea pigs on the Dramatis Personae pages was a wonderful touch. Why did you choose to do that?
It was an idea we came up with while brainstorming, because the whole thing is a bit like a Nativity play.
Why was the baby played by a stuffed animal?
Have you ever tried getting a baby guinea pig to pose?
Small pet rescue centers are mentioned in the acknowledgements. Was part of the goal of the book to raise public awareness of small animal pets that need rescue?
It's something that we found out about while we were making the book. Several of the guinea pigs involved had been rescued after their first owners had abandoned them.
Where can people purchase the book, is it in stores?
Absolutely! It's also available from bloomsbury.com and online retailers.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about what went into creating the book?
A Guinea Pig Nativity was created in a spirit of fun and affection by a wonderful team; we hope that it brings a little bit of Christmassy joy to anyone who reads it.
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