First Draft Episode #183: Author and Illustrator Jon Klassen
Jon Klassen, Caldecott Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of the “I Want My Hat Back” series, as well as the illustrator of Sam and Dave Dig a Hole and Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett; The Dark by Lemony Snicket; House Held Up by Trees by Ted Kooser; Cats' Night Out by Caroline Stutson; and many more. Find him on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr!
In the course of our conversation, Jon and I discuss how his early experience as a set designer changed how he thought about picture book audiences, why he felt that painting objects or animals had as much emotional impact as human characters, and how the personal arc of his best-known series, I Want My Hat Back, went from ironic detachment to artistic earnestness.
Links and Topics Mentioned in This Episode
The Little Mermaid was one of the Disney movies that made Jon aware of animating as a job
An early illustrating gig for Red Cap Cards led Jon to discover his love for drawing animals, including bears wearing hats
Carrie Gifford (co-owner of Red Cap Cards)
Filmmaker and author Ed Wood
The third book in the I Want My Hat Back trilogy was partly inspired by a scene in the Chevy Chase comedy European Vacation
Author Mac Barnett is one of Jon’s most frequent collaborators
Jon is inspired by the classic children’s book series Frog and Toad, and it was one of the first things he and Mac Barnett bonded over
What Can a Citizen Do? By Dave Eggers; illustrated by Shawn Harris
Dave Eggers’ online satire periodical McSweeny’s
826 National, the literacy non-profit founded by Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Calegari
The “things” in Where the Wild Things Are by Marcus Sedgewick came about after Sedgewick almost quit on the project
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
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Every Tuesday, I speak to storytellers like Veronica Roth, author of Divergent, Michael Dante DiMartino, co-creator of Avatar: The Last Airbender, or John August, screenwriter of Big Fish, Charlie’s Angels, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Together, we take deep dives on their careers and creative works.
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