In conjunction with Chris's blog tour for Oh No, George! I'm delighted to tell you that one person who emails me [thebookchook (at) gmail (dot) com] - with "George" in the subject line and their postal details in the body of the email - during the next six days will receive this limited edition print from the book, pictured just below. One email per family. Australian or New Zealand postal address only please.
UPDATE: The winner is Julie C. Julie has been notified, and will receive her print soon from Walker Books.
Interview with Chris Haughton
BC: Chris, I very much enjoyed A Bit Lost which I reviewed at The Book Chook. It's won some awards. Can you tell us a little about that?
CH: Yes, Little Owl has been very, very, lucky! He has won awards in six countries: the UK, Ireland, France, USA, Holland and Canada. In Holland it won the Dutch Picture Book and as part of the award it was the centre of National Read Aloud week (Nationale Voorleesdagen) which meant it was read out and performed across the country and was even read out by the Dutch princess. I went over for some of the week and it was absolutely magical to see my characters and story being performed in Dutch and adapted to puppet shows and theatres. It has been a really amazing year and a half and I’m so happy it has had such a response. I had no idea it would have anything like the reaction it has had.
BC: Right now, you're visiting different blogs to promote your latest picture book, Oh No, George! Something tells me you may have a dog of your own - is that right?
CH: I had three dogs altogether while I was growing up in my parents house, but I don’t have one anymore. The first dog we had when I was very young was called Tammy. She was quite like George - she was pretty bold and had a habit of eating the things she wasn’t allowed. George’s story came about because the book was originally going to be called OH NO! and it had lots of accidents happening. There was going to be a cause on one page and then when you turn the page you would see its effect. I drew George and it seemed funnier to have a dog to blame for all the accidents. All the dogs I’ve ever had seemed to have had a problem with being good, and were very guilty whenever they did something bad.
BC: As an author/ illustrator, what comes first, the words or the pictures?
CH: The pictures. Really I just draw the pictures and the text underneath just writes itself.
BC: Which children's authors and illustrators do you admire most?
CH: I love the stories and subject matter of Dr Suess. Many of his books tackle quite abstract or poignant themes but he manages to do it in a way that everyone can understand and find funny. I like Leo Lionni for his simplicity. I really love Kitty Crowther and Beatrice Alemagna's work for their drawn details and patterns. Many of my favourite illustrators are French: Chamo, Marc Boutavant, Olivier Tallec.
BC: I read where you said you got inspiration for some characters in A Bit Lost from Mexican handicrafts and from Rousseau. What other art styles or artists have influenced you?
CH: I love all kinds of folk art. Anything that simplifies imagery in one way or another I think I am drawn to. Textiles, embroidery, Indian Madupani and Worli folk painting. Folk art is great because it flattens and simplifies everything unimportant and that leaves room to concentrate on the important story-telling elements of gestures and movement. Textiles tend to ignore realistic colours, which is quite refreshing, and it focuses on colour and decorative details.
BC: Can you tell us a little about Fair Trade and Node Rugs?
CH: I’ve been working with the fair trade company People Tree and others for the past 8 years and I think the work they are doing is really fantastic and much needed. They work with women’s shelters and other development projects around the world and try and provide income to disabled/illiterate or other disadvantaged peoples. Many of their products are bought as gifts so the design is important. It is very satisfying for a designer to be involved in.
I had wanted to get little more involved in the design process so I went out to Nepal for 5 months to visit the projects. One of the things I was most excited about while out there was a fair trade rug project. People Tree are more focused on clothing but I thought it was such a nice project. I had some rugs made and put some pictures up on the blog and in a pretty short while it got a lot of hits and was featured on design blogs. I was being asked by other illustrators if they could also make rugs. I got my Nepalese friend, Akshay, involved and we set up noderugs.com to facilitate that. We decided to call ourselves ‘node’ because it’s the Latin word for knot and at the same time we wanted to be connecting people to fair trade. The project supports a school and orphanage and they make amazing rugs so it’s all very exciting...! We are now selling the rugs through the design museum in London, and from our online shop.
BC: Thanks so much, Chris. I very much enjoyed your books and hope to read you again soon!