Our guest: Henry Cole is an insanely prolific multi-award winning author and illustrator. We suspect he’s actually nine people. For example, he released his first book of 2016, Brambleheart: A Story About Finding Treasure and the Unexpected Magic of Friendship (Katherine Tegen Books), in February, and his second, Spot, the Cat, comes out March 1 via Little Simon. Maxi the Taxi (Scholastic), written by Elizabeth Upton, also drops in March, and The Somewhat True Adventures of Sammy Shine (Peachtree) comes in April. By New Year’s Eve he’ll have released 1.6 million new titles in 2016.
The Proust-Esque Questionnaire is based on a set of 36 standardized questions designed by Marcel Proust in the 1890’s to give an overview of the respondent’s personality. Our goals are less lofty, but hopefully will provide some insight into how your favorite authors and illustrators work and what they love.
Slovenly Peter and Our National Calamity were my favorites. ‘Nuff said!
2. WITH WHICH CHILDREN’S LITERATURE CHARACTER DO YOU MOST IDENTIFY?
3. WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK AUTHOR? ILLUSTRATOR?
Don’t have one, but I loved OK for Now, by Gary Schmidt. Fave Illustrator: I like David Small and N.C. Wyeth.
4. IF YOU WERE TO THROW A KINDERLIT PARTY FOR FIVE GUESTS, WHO WOULD YOU INVITE?
5. WHICH QUALITY DO YOU THINK IS MOST IMPORTANT IN GOOD CHILDREN’S LITERATURE?
Humor first. Also, something that is Not P.C.
7. IF YOU WERE TO DIE AND COME BACK AS A CHARACTER FROM CHILDREN’S LITERATURE, WHO WOULD YOU LIKE IT TO BE?
Tarzan, definitely. Loin cloth in the trees? Save elephants from poachers? Oh, Yes! (But please no mosquitoes or poisonous insects or anything where I’d need a dentist.)
8. IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND REDO ONE THING IN YOUR WORK, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Most everything I’d go back and redo, are you kidding!? It’s never right.
9. WHAT IS THE GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WERE EVER GIVEN?
Something the wonderful Ava Weiss (left, Art Director at Greenwillow for many years) told me, as I was struggling with drawing/changing last-minute bits and pieces at her desk in NY, and just couldn’t get a foot right… I drew it over and over, and the foot was fore-shortened and each time I tried it looked like a tree stump or a horrible growth on this poor kid’s leg. Ava said, finally: “Eh… put a bucket in front of it!” If you can’t draw something, hide it.
10. DESCRIBE YOUR WORK PROCESS.
My work Process: Get Up Early.