We recently caught up with Jon Agee at Books of Wonder (our favorite book shop) and were introduced to his new book, My Rhinoceros. The girls are delighted by this funny and imaginative book about a boy and his pet rhinoceros who has undiscovered and seemingly indispensable talents. (In fact, Oona is reciting the book to me as I write this – she knows it more or less, by heart.) Jon both wrote the book, and illustrated it in the fun and colorful style which we have come to expect from the author of many other acclaimed books such as Milo’s Hat Trick, Terrific, (which won the New York Times Best Illustrated Book Award), and Mr. Putney’s Quacking Dog: another book about an unusually talented animal, which we also have, and which I am asked to read over and over again!
And here is our little interview with Jon:
Jeanne: What inspired you to become an illustrator?
Jon: My mother – an artist – encouraged me and my sister to draw and paint from a very early age. She made art a big part of our lives.
Jeanne: What is the best thing about your job?
Jon: The best thing about writing and illustrating a picture book is when the concept for the book dummy, or a picture, or a line of text – or something else I’ve been struggling with – all of the sudden gets figured out.
Jeanne: What is your next project?
Jon: The next project is a picture book called Little Santa. It tells the story of the Claus family, who live alone in the North Pole. They are all miserable, except for their youngest child, Santa. So when they decide to move to Florida, Santa is upset. But that evening, as they pack, a blizzard buries their house in a huge snow drift. The only way out is through the chimney. Santa volunteers and goes to look for help. He meets some elves and a flying reindeer, and they save the day.