The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld
|The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld|
|Summary: Bookbag loved the fun, quirkiness and directness of Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld. It takes a single optical illusion and weaves a narrative around it. The opportunity to ask its author and illustrator a few questions was one that we couldn't pass up.|
|Date: 8 April 2009|
|Interviewer: Keith Dudhnath|
Bookbag loved the fun, quirkiness and directness of Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld. It takes a single optical illusion and weaves a narrative around it. The opportunity to ask its author and illustrator a few questions was one that we couldn't pass up.
- Bookbag: The core idea of Duck! Rabbit! is brilliantly simple. Was it tempting to over-complicate things?
Amy Krouse Rosenthal: Nope! Quite the opposite: It was tempting to keep it clean and simple.
Tom Lichtenheld: We knew we had to keep it simple or the idea would become diluted. In fact, we started with the idea that the DuckRabbit would be the same from page to page and only the context would change.
- BB: If you close your eyes and imagine the children reading this book, are they laughing or scratching their heads?
AKR: Somewhere in between, actually. There's a moment of "uh, what?" and then that squeal of delight when they get it: "oh, cool!" I hope the experience is one of curiosity, awe and amusement all in one.
TL: At first they're puzzled, then they see it and let out a squeal. I've been presenting the book in schools and it's fun to see that moment of recognition. I think it's the same sensation as having a great idea pop into your head.
- BB: Were you ever worried that they might not get the joke?
AKR: A bit, yes. That's why we rather spelled it out on the cover (with quack and sniff directives)...and why we paced the book as it is, with very straightforward beginning, moving into other scenarios...
TL: Like Amy said, we carefully made it clear at the beginning.
- BB: Which is it REALLY? A duck or a rabbit?
AKR: Yes. :)
- BB: Is it hard for children's authors and illustrators to get the recognition that adult novelists get?
AKR: What are adult novelists? Sounds vaguely familiar... :) Actually, I write for both grown-ups and children so my experience has been fairly even across the board.
TL: I have this cartoon on my bulletin board: Two superheroes are flying over a city. One says to the other "What I REALLY want to do is write children's books." It's a pretty well-respected craft. I suspect that recognition comes to the best ideas and executions, same as in grown-up books.
- BB: Which three books should every child read?
AKR: Sylvester and The Magic Pebble by William Steig, Fortunately by Remy Charlip], and Duck! Rabbit! by Amy and Tom!
TL: The books that were meaningful to me may not be meaningful to other kids, so I can't make a list. But I can tell you how to find meaningful books of your own. 1. Avoid licensed books - those are more advertising than books. 2. Avoid books that rely on shock value as a theme, ie farting or misbehaving 3. Spend time browsing at the library, pick up lots of books until something strikes you as interesting, then sit down - right there on the floor in front of the bookshelf - and read it. Discovery is part of the joy of reading.
- BB: What are you reading at the moment?
AKR: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery and Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center.
TL: Kids books: The Incredible Book-Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers, Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt and A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis. I know these are great books because the ideas are simple yet brilliant, the executions are inventive, and I'm insanely jealous that I didn't think of them first.
- BB: Which book has most influenced you and do you still have a copy?
AKR: Children's: Fortunately by Remy Charlip, yes. And Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, yes. Grown up: Remote by David Shields. And yes.
TL: Pagoo by Holling C Holling and Lucille Webster Holling. Probably not the greatest kids book ever written, but my mom curled me up in her lap and read it to me when I was five, so it's indelibly etched into my heart.
- BB: What's next for Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld?
TL: I'm sure Amy and I will conjur up some sort of nonsense soon. In the meantime, I have two books coming out in the next two years. Bridget's Beret is about a little girl who believes her artistic talent comes from her beret, until she loses it (the beret, that is). Shark vs. Train, which is about a shark and a train who face off in a variety of mano-a-mano situations - a pie-eating contest, a quiet contest at the library, fencing on a tightrope, etc
- BB: Thanks a lot, Amy and Tom! We can't wait to see the new books!
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