The creators of the tutu-wearing white mouse explain how real-life dancing tantrums inspired some of their heroine's best adventures
Katharine Holabird, writer
Many of the characters were based on real-life friends and family: Alice was the mouse version of a very loyal friend of my daughter's, and Henry was my son, who followed his two sisters everywhere. If you live with children, there are outbursts and meltdowns every day, and I wanted to write about real situations so readers knew Angelina had ups and downs just like them. Children understand Angelina because she makes a lot of mistakes – but she always picks herself up and dances on again.
Helen and I always talk about the book together before we start. She has a complete vision of Mouseland in her head, all based on her country childhood during the war, and this makes us an interesting combination, as I grew up in Chicago.
When the Angelina books were turned into a television series, I read every script beforehand, but it can be a wrench to have your character and stories handed over to a team of scriptwriters who have ideas of their own, however good – and few children's authors have the draconian power over brand development that JK Rowling does.
This year is Angelina's 30th anniversary, but for me, she will never grow old. As a character she's so full of life that I feel I can create any situation and just sit back and watch what she does next. As a writer, I can't ask for more.
And from illustrator Helen Craig