By and large, when it comes to kids’ books, there is usually a sprinkling of knowledge or a moral code embedded in the words which are there to enlighten. When it came to writing my next book for kids, Mutiny of the Skinny Guinea Pig, I gained a wealth of knowledge that was hitherto unknown to me. Firstly, I wanted to know how and when the descriptive title of, Guinea Pig, became part of the English language. When looking up the name 'Guinea pig' in a modern dictionary, it describes why this title has been given to Cavies — their correct species name — but the actual origin of the title is classed as unknown. However, in the Encyclopaedic Dictionary from 1895 I discovered that: (1) It's figuratively a term of reproach and (2) It's a name jocosely given to a person acting as a substitute performing duties for which the fee is a guinea (a guinea was a former British unit of currency worth 21 shillings, made in gold from Guinea, Western Africa).
Although common sense had already made clear the reasoning behind the naming of this intelligent, docile rodent (it’s widespread use in scientific experiments) it was the word Skinny that had me baffled. In their wild habitat of South America, Cavies are covered in fur but due to the aforementioned experiments, a genetic mutation was developed producing a type named, The Skinny, which has no fur at all — no doubt a great convenience for the cosmetics industry.
My tale is championing the heroics of Vinny, the skinny guinea pig, who through courage and determination finds a way of returning to his proud heritage. A lesson to us all: Remain true to the self within and resist all imposition from without that seeks to crush individuality.