GIVEAWAY! I Want My Hat Back! by Jon Klassen
When Candlewick Press approached me to review I WANT MY HAT BACK by Jon Klassen, I sent some questions for Jon, and then the book HIT. Everybody went nuts over it! So much so, it became a New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book of the Year.
I had a feeling it would. This book struck me from the start as something different and I must admit, I absolutely adore it, both from a writer's standpoint and an illustrator/design perspective. It's subtle, it's simple, yet deep. It's everything a good picture book should be. So, I'm thrilled to finally be able to share Jon's answers with you today...
Q. Hi Jon, I adore your new I Want My Hat Back! Congratulations on such a stunning book. I find it somewhat reminiscent of Eric Carle's cut paper style, but with a modern, fresh new voice. Was he an inspiration? (Any others?)
A. Thank you very much! I'm glad you like the illustrations too. Eric Carle will probably always be an inspiration, even just because he was so clean and clear with his books and the way they are designed. I think kids, or even just people in general, like a big clean shape on the page. I definitely do, anyway. I like a lot of Inuit art - I look at that stuff sometimes, and I think a few elements of how they put variation into big shapes finds its way into my stuff. I really [like? love?] how a lot of Inuit art has these animals and people that are big simple shapes, but they always ends up also having a ton of character and even emotion in them as well.
Q. The story seems so simple but takes a rather dramatic turn in the climax which could inspire much discussion depending on who is reading. It struck me that you were taking a chance with the twist - much as Maurice Sendak, Shel Silverstein, and Dr. Seuss did in their day (see article: "The Children's Authors Who Broke the Rules"). Did you feel you were?
A. I don't think I felt I was taking too much of a chance - I don't think I would've been interested in the story if it had ended any other way. I don't think you should set out to consciously break any conventions or anything like that just for the sake of it - it really did feel like that was the ending that needed to happen if the story was going to make any sense.
Q. Truly, both the art and the story seem deceptively simple as they portray much more complex concepts. What was your thinking as you approached this book?
A. I was pretty nervous making this book because I'd never written one before, and because I wanted to do something simple, which always feels a bit risky because if it doesn't work it can come off as lazy. I knew I didn't want the characters do be doing very much physically, but I liked the idea that they were maybe nervous to be in the book, too. Like they didn't really know why they'd been asked to do it. I have trouble "believing" in characters that I would make up, I just don't do it very often, but I relaxed when I started to think of them as actors in something that they didn't really want to be in. I can believe in that.
Q. Your style is so distinct. Do you mind talking some about your process, or the evolution of your look?
A. The process for the illustrations for this book was to do big silhouettes with black ink and then scan them and add color and details digitally. I work digitally from scratch a lot, but the more I get into doing work that's going to get printed, the more I find it looks better if you start with something that's been done with a real, kind of messy medium and then tighten up the things that need tightening once its been brought into the computer. Computers are great at processing and adjusting things that were done with a little less control than you'd have if you'd started digitally.
I agree! Thanks so much for visiting, Jon!
So as we do more and more these days, I am hosting a giveaway! As soon as I have 30 comments (this is a biggie - let's shoot high), I will do a drawing and one lucky winner will win a free, signed copy of I WANT MY HAT BACK! (Must live in the continental US or Canada to win, and include a contact email address in your comment (you at soandso dot com is fine). And y'all be sure to add that email address - you'd be amazed how many people didn't qualify for the last drawing because I had no way to contact them!!!!
And check out this awesome trailer and see if you can figure out the mystery: