Interview: Steven Kellogg

Sunday, November 5, 2006

A boa, a Great Dane, an old cat and some mice recently visited the Washington International School in Washington, D.C. These imaginary animals accompanied Steven Kellogg, a world renowned author and illustrator. Fifth graders Philippe de Gaiffier, Ilaria Schlitz, Alessandro Ferrari and Victoria Anders interviewed him for Book World:

What inspired you to become an author and illustrator?

When I was a child, I used to watch grumpy adults unwillingly going to work. But I wanted to be like the few other adults who were happy. Since then, I have found my passion, and in the past 40 years, I have written and illustrated over 100 books that have been translated into more than 15 different languages.

Where do you like to write?

My studio, which is in an old yellow barn, is my favorite place to write. It's a nice spot where I can look out to an apple orchard and a lake.

Why are there so many animals in your books?

I love them and can't imagine a life without them. They are fun, lovable, faithful - and fun to draw! My dream would be to illustrate "The Wind in the Willows," written by Kenneth Grahame.

What tips do you have for children who want to become authors or illustrators?

I would tell them to read as many books as possible, think how the stories move and make them feel. They should write as much as they can about their ideas and feelings. To become an illustrator, they should observe, practice and create characters that can come to life. As an author/illustrator, they should make sure that their pictures blend and combine well with the text.

If you had 24 hours to do whatever you pleased without worrying about money and family, what would you do?

I would go back to Florence, Italy, where I studied. I would walk the streets and see what has changed. Staying in Florence was an important part of my life. I turned 21 there and made lots of big decisions.

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