Jon Klassen is the author and illustrator of the delightful new picture book, I Want My Hat Back. Today he’s visiting Kids’ Book Capers to talk about his journey and creating this book.
1. Can you tell us briefly about how you became an author/ illustrator?
I went to school for animation, but the part I liked best about making animated films was designing the backgrounds and figuring out the colours. I worked for some studios doing that for a few years, and got more interested in doing smaller things on my own. I’ve always liked books and book illustrations, so I guess my own things alluded to that and I got lucky and some publishers saw my work.
It was thought of first as the title matched with a hatless character on the cover. A bear seemed like a good choice because you don’t really know what he’s going to do about it.
3. How long did it take you to create this book from start to finish?
About 4 months, give or take. The roughs were pretty straightforward, and although it took a little time to figure out a good technique for the final artwork, once it was nailed down it was a pretty smooth process.
4. Can you tell me about the main character and what you like/dislike about them?
The main character is a bear who has lost his hat. He is polite about asking around for it, but near the end he realizes he’s been deceived and his politeness is sort of forgotten. I like that he is polite, but also I like that he sort of loses himself for a second in this story. I think at the end he’s not quite sure what to think of what’s gone on.
5. This is the first book you have both written and illustrated? How have you found this process different from previous works where you’ve illustrated books written by someone else?
It’s much different. Getting the chance to do both is a real privilege. You get to tailor the writing to the pictures and go back and forth between the two things until they are both working together.
Doing illustrations for something written by someone else is fun too, because you get to take something you didn’t know about before and interpret it and the results are always a bit of a surprise because most of the time it’s not something you would’ve thought of doing.
6. What did you enjoy most about writing and illustrating this book?
I really enjoyed doing the final illustrations. They are very simple, but they had a context I liked thinking about and working to, and that makes illustrating really fun.
7. What was the hardest thing about writing and illustrating this book?
The writing was tricky. It took some time to figure out that it could be done with just dialogue. Before that, I was a little intimidated by narration, but after that was done away with, the writing came easier.
8. What is the target readership for your book and why will readers like it?
I’d like to think it can be for a number of age groups. We tried to make it a book where the basic story wouldn’t be lost on anyone, but where the explanation of the events at the end was subtle enough that older kids would pick up on some things that younger kids might not.
Thanks for visiting, Jon. Enjoy the rest of your tour. Check out the schedule for all the other great blogs Jon’s visiting.