Animals are my Business! Daniel Kirk’s books tell human stories with a menagerie of different animals.
The best thing about illustrating children’s books is that I get to make animals walk on their hind legs, talk, wear clothes, and act like people. That is good because, for me, drawing animals is so much more fun than drawing people!
My Library Mouse character, Sam, came to me after I saw a real-live mouse run through an elementary school library. I was inspired to tell his story… with a few changes, of course, including a wardrobe of mouse-sized outfits and a passion for writing and illustrating books. “If I were a mouse that lived in a library,” I said to myself, “I would hide out and read books all day and night! And maybe I’d get inspired to write a book of my own.” Sam is a timid fellow and he usually wears a buttoned down shirt buttoned all the way up, but his choice in hats shows he has a unique personality.
Sock Monkey in You Are Not My Friend, But I Miss You was inspired by one of my own favorite childhood toys – a stuffed monkey called Jocko that was, for a time, my constant companion. What became of Jocko I’ll never know, but I made sure that when my own kids were young, they had sock monkeys, too. I chose a monkey to star in my story after first trying out a young girl, a cat, and various monsters. My character needed to be a little angry, a little silly, a little annoying, and a little sad. When I tried drawing a sock monkey, he seemed like the perfect fit for the tale I wanted to tell. His buddy, Dog, started off as a rabbit… but as I sketched the book, he slowly turned into a cute little pup. Funny how that happens!
For The Thing About Spring, I had my pick of woodland critters. I could have chosen a raccoon, opossum, snake, hedgehog, or groundhog for my main character. I have a gray pet rabbit at home named Chow Fun (after the Chinese noodle), and I’ve always wanted to put my bunny in one of my books. Chow Fun does not wear a scarf or talk or walk on his hind legs, but otherwise he’s pretty much the same bunny you’ll see in the book. Like Sock Monkey, Rabbit is a bit contrary and stuck in his ways. He loves his friends, though, and my books are often about the joys and challenges of finding and keeping friends.
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