With Children’s Author & Illustrator, Jane Chapman
The ABC song is one of the first fun songs we teach our children to sing. Why? Because the alphabet is the backbone for learning to read and write. For some people, reading and writing is not fun at all.
My new series, ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD offers a new way to have fun with the alphabet. Every week, a children’s author, illustrator, literary agent or editor will share their ‘top of the head’ answers to the ABC category list they were given, A to Z. Following their answers, I ask a few questions to gain a little insight into their world.
Feel free to play along, maybe your answer off the top of your head will match theirs. Enjoy!
Jane Chapman, children’s author and illustrator, and wife of author and illustrator, Tim Warnes, is our contestant today! A beloved author and illustrator of many animal picture books, here are some of her books:
Below is a list of Jane’s categories from A – Z, and her answers off the top of her head.
ANIMAL: Coati Mundi
BERRY: Black Currant
CARTOON CHARACTER: Snoopy
EVERY CHILD: is an individual
FAVORITE FLOWER: tulip
GARDEN FEATURE: topiary
HISTORICAL FIGURE: St. Paul
ICE CREAM FLAVOR: Home-made rum and chocolate gelato
JAMMING SONG: Hey Joe (Jimi Hendrix)
KITCHEN ITEM: Kitchenaid Mixer
LAUGH (WHAT MAKES YOU): mispronunciation, mamapropisms, making up voices for animals, or back stories for strangers walking past with big bags (‘he keeps his performing hamsters in there’)
MONSTER: Cookie, Elmo, Grover
NUMBER OF BOOKS READ THIS YEAR: 5
OPPOSITES: Big Bear, Small Mouse
PICKLES (YES OR NO): Always yes!
QUICK (THINGS THAT ARE): biscuits disappearing
ROUND: oranges, the moon, pom-poms
SYNONYM FOR AWESOME: fantastic
TOY: the new Lego Millennium Falcon (except that it’s not really a toy)
UNIQUE COLOR: somewhere between brown and lime
VACATION DESTINATION: home
WORDS OF WISDOM: Make the best decision you can with the facts available, and don’t blame yourself in the future with the benefit of hindsight.
X (word that begins with): Xi ( I have Scrabble Dictionary)
YOUNG ADULT BOOK: ? Not for me.
ZANIEST THING YOU’VE DONE: I’m not very zany, sorry! But I suppose I looked quite zany after one of our regular face-painting sessions when my oldest son was little. I was always happy to offer myself as a model, because I’d get to sit still, with my eyes shut, while Noah concentrated quietly for over an hour. He patiently covered all the skin he could see including under my chin, my neck, my ears, up to my nose…he was very thorough. I have some great photos of the results.
ME: I totally get the serenity of just being, when you have young ones who are engrossed in a quiet activity. With that in mind, you can do something zany right now…sharing your photos of your son’s face-painting artwork on you! Was the face painting session a beginning to a love of art in your son, Noah?
JC: I don’t know that I can find the photos so easily! I looked black mostly, with dark green patches. He wasn’t keen on the brighter colours – he liked a bit of drama. But yes, Noah is very interested in art. Now he is a great printmaker. My younger son prefers using a spray can.
ME: You gave a good visual, no need for photos. 😊 Creativity abounds in your children too; love it! Family time together is wonderful. And how fantastic that you and your husband work together too!
How about playing games together? You mention you have a Scrabble dictionary, is that a family favorite game by chance?
JC: It’s a family favourite from my childhood home, but Tim and the boys don’t like it much, so I hardly ever get to play.
ME: Same here.
Coati mundi are fantastic little animals! Does one appear in any of your books and is there a reason the coati mundi was on the top in your mind?
JC: No, there are none in any of my books; apparently Joe Public only wants to buy books with more regular animals in (them). I just think Coati Mundi are charming. I have seen them at the zoo, and find their elegant long noses beautiful (I like anteaters for the same reason).
ME: Joe Public needs some diversity of animals, I think. Such as books with snow leopards, quokkas, impalas, bonobos and coati mundi. Even Snoopy likes diversity. If Snoopy ran into a triceratops, what do you think the scene would play out like?
JC: This is one of those questions that I can’t answer easily; my brain goes into overdrive. I am strictly a ‘60s Snoopy cartoon strip fan, so he’d probably hide in the bushes pretending to be a T-Rex stalking its prey (like when he pretends to be a vulture on a rock, all furrowed brow).
ME: The scenarios are fantastic fun to consider though, aren’t they 😉. What is your favorite tulip color and do you grow them?
JC: Tim plants pots of tulips most years, but they usually get eaten by mice if they are planted in the ground. I like the really dark plums and blacks, but my absolute favourites are flaming parrots in yellow and red stripes.
ME: Stunning choice! I am equally intrigued with your ice cream flavor answer. How did you come across it?
JC: Just made it up! I have a fancy ice-cream maker, so we chuck everything in a big bowl until the flavour is just slightly too sweet to be perfect, then it goes into the machine.
ME: My mouth is watering. Sounds like your culinary creativity could be sold to an ice cream company. And your creativity continues. Like you, my family and I enjoy creating back stories for strangers, but strangers in general. You make them up specifically for strangers with big bags. Has this past time ever found its’ way into your books? And, what upcoming projects of yours can share with us?
JC: Oh no, no one is immune! It’s just that strangers with big bags (specifically elderly ladies and gentlemen) are the easiest to imagine with hoards of man-eating squirrels that can’t be trusted to be left at home.
This pastime has never gone into a book, but I think that stretching your imagination muscle is always healthy. The problem for me is that I find it hard to stop believing the scenario once the game is over.
I have very, very recently completed the art for another Bear book by Karma Wilson. I am super pleased with my painting – the quilts alone took me weeks, but I so love these characters. Mole wears a neckerchief like a cape when he is singing one scene. I think he looks like an operatic star.
I also have a book about sea otters coming out in a few months. Sea otters are adorable. Not only do they tie themselves up in kelp, but they also hold paws while they float about so that they don’t get separated.
Thanks for the interview!
ME: Very happy to have you participate Jane! I picture what your illustrations of man-eating squirrels would look like and then delve into fits of giggles because I picture these illustrations of yours from some of my favorite books, you’ve written.
The bear books are delightful too!
All of your illustrated characters are adorable, charming and wonderful! I am drawn into their story more because of them.
Now that I know you are working on a sea otter book ( I LOVE otters) I’ll be anxiously awaiting it’s release date.
With Your Paw in Mine is published by Little Tiger Press, June 2018
Bear Can’t Sleep is published by Simon & Schuster, Fall 2018
Thank you Jane for playing the ABC Game and letting into your world of creativity!
Here are more of her illustrated books to check out…
Readers, thank you for stopping by. You can learn more about Jane and the rest of her books and art on her website: http://www.chapmanandwarnes.com
And you can see her online gallery, along with her husband, Tim Warnes’, at Chapman & Warnes Online Gallery .
And you can follow them both on:
Have a fantastic weekend everyone!
P.S. Someone near and dear to Jane will be our contestant next week!