Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back took the world by storm, and claimed the title of the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book 2011. This Is Not My Hat, 2013 Caldecott Winner, echoes the Klassen’s witty humour and style that made its predecessor so popular – appealing to both children and adults alike.
Jon Klassen’s resume makes for very impressive reading! His illustrations have graced the covers of books such as The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place. Not limited to static illustrations, Jon has also worked on the feature film Coraline and the U2 Video “I’ll go crazy” [see below .] Phew!
While you wait for the new release have fun delving in to ‘all things Klassen’ as you enjoy his interview with My Book Corner … and yes, he did attempt the marmite / vegemite question! However I was a little disappointed about Bono’s number … oh well!
Tell us about you in 25 words or less.
I live in Los Angeles, California, but I’m from Ontario, Canada and I like both places.
You’ve worked for a bank, BBC Olympics, the animated movie – Coraline and a fantastic video for one of the greatest bands ever (not a fan, honest!) – U2.Which of these was the most fun to work on? The strangest? The most stressful? Did either of these take you outside your comfort zone? Do you have Bono’s mobile number?
They were all fun to work on. I’ve been lucky with jobs. Coraline was almost a 2 year thing, and I learned so much there. It was probably the most stressful just because I did have so much learning to do, but stressful things sometimes work their way into your heart the way easier things don’t. The U2 video [see below] was kind of strange just in the fact that it was for this huge band and it just me, David O’Reilly (who directed it) and some animators that he’d hired. I do not have Bono’s number, but he’s sitting here and he says to say hello. He actually won’t go away. It’s weird.
It’s an ongoing process, and a constantly changing one, because you yourself change, so the work changes with it. I think this is more fun than having a style that you can outline specifically, because one day you might wake up and not like that style any more and then what do you do?
You’ve illustrated books such The Incorrigibles and The Rabbit Mayor but what inspired you to make the jump to writing and illustrating your own children’s picture book? How did that come about and how did you find the process in comparison to illustrating for someone else?
I guess it’s just the natural thing to want to do when you work on things that other people have written to want to try it yourself. I think it’s the kind of book that would’ve been difficult to get with a separate author and illustrator, because both sides sort of depend on each other to have it make sense. That happens sometimes with illustrating somebody else’s work too, but it usually takes close collaboration along the way, and that’s kind of a rare thing. Illustrating somebody else’s texts so far has been really fun, too, though. There’s a lot of interesting problems to solve, and it’s a very rewarding job. But when you have an idea for your own thing and you think the best thing for it would be to do it yourself, it’s a big deal to have someone say “ok, go for it.”.
In October will you be tempted to check bookshops you pass, just to make sure they have copies of I Want My Hat Back …. and then move them to the front of the shelf?!
I am confident that we have sent out enough bribe money that it will be on the front of the shelf long after October and well into the lucrative Christmas shopping season.
Where have you always wanted to visit, but haven’t made it to … yet?
I saw on a nature show this part of the world where it gets too far north for things to grow. In the few miles approaching that part, the trees start to get smaller and further apart until they are just these little trees in the snow sort of making a miniature forest where nothing lives because there’s no food to eat. It looked like the quietest place in the world. I haven’t made it there yet because I don’t think almost anything makes it there.
Where is your favourite place to write and illustrate?
I work at home right now in a little office room, but it’s not ideal because it’s right next to everything else that is going on . I hope someday to have that place where you know you can go and everything’s going to feel great and you can just get to work. It will have a big table in it, but that’s as far as I’ve planned.
Tell us about your next or latest project in 25 words or less.
The project I finished last is a book about a house that gets left alone and almost falls apart but then it doesn’t.
Just for fun
Tea or coffee? Tea.
Paper books or e-books? Both, these days.
Vegemite or Marmite? I’ve never had either, but Marmite sounds better? kind of?
Write or type? Type.
Poetry or prose? Poetry.
Beach or bush? Bush. I live close enough to the ocean to have learned it’s too big for me. Lake beaches are fine.
Hot or cold? Hot.