Family Book Festival is a project to help chase away the doldrums of winter by jumping into the favorite books of our author, illustrator, blogger friends.
It’s our hope that, not only will we provide reading families with amazing new booklists and activities, but also give the parents a chance to experience a blissful walk down memory lane as they share favorite books from their childhood.
Today I am so please to share my interview with Author and Illustrator Chris Robertson!
For the past year Chris Robertson books have been a main stay in our household. They’re clever, witty, and just plain o’l fun. Chris’s books appeal to young and old alike and we never tire of reading them.
When I went to look further into who Chris Robertson is via his bio on Amazon, I discovered that he was once on ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ and traded something really practical for something beyond cool. I just had to know more. Happily for us, Chris agreed to sit down for a little chat and let us look inside his world.
Please read on because you will learn things beyond your wild imagination, like where to hide your basketball from a donkey.
Welcome Chris, it’s so great to have you here on Jump into a Book. We always start every interview off with our favorite question:
What’s your favorite letter of the Alphabet and why?
Chris: My favorite letter of the alphabet is most definitely ‘W’ because it is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a ‘double U’. How cool is that? Of course if I were to pick my next favorite, it would have to be a tie between ‘X’, ‘Y’, and ‘Z’. They are the perfect ending to the alphabet.
Do you have a favorite color?
Chris: Blueish-green. The color of my wife’s eyes.
When did you start writing stories and illustrating them?
Chris: Professionally, in 2004, my first children’s book, Little Miss Liberty, was published by Chronicle Books. Of course, I can remember writing stories and drawing pictures for them when I was a very young boy.
Do your children inspire your stories?
Chris: Yes, in fact I think that is where my strongest inspiration comes from. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my first book was published about the same time that my young boys first started reading picture books.
Do they start out as bed time stories by any chance?
Chris: My published stories typically don’t. Nighttime stories are usually along the lines of stories about family and friends and me when I was their age.
In your book “I’ll Trade a Peanut Butter Sandwich” your main character basically trades his peanut butter sandwich for a good many things. First, do you like peanut butter? And second, what would you trade it for?
Chris: I do like peanut butter. My wife thinks I love peanut butter, but I think she’s crazy. (Goodness, all this talk about peanut butter is making me hungry!) I might trade my peanut butter for a jar of jelly, but I’m not as creative as the kid in the book.
Speaking of trading, I’ve heard tell that you once traded a brand new washer and dryer for a donkey. When I told my children this story a whole bevy of questions followed. I thought I would pass those on. Though they started with “Did you get to take it home?” Clearly as the questions go on they feel you did take it home. I love the way children’s minds work and how they can get so involved so quickly.
- Did you get to take the donkey home? Of course I got to take it home. I won it after all!
- What did you name it? I named him Patches.
- Where did you keep it? I kept him in my neighbor’s backyard when they weren’t home.
- Did it eat a lot? It ate anything and everything. I used to have a basketball.
- Did you ride it everywhere? Only places where it was legal to ride a donkey. This city doesn’t have very many donkey lanes.
- Did you get to ride it to school? I had already finished school by the time I got Patches.
- Could it play with you on the playground? I took him to the playground once and that’s when he discovered his love for basketballs.
- Did it ever bite or kick anyone and if so did you get in trouble for it? Patches was more a of nibbler than a biter…..unless you were a basketball.
- Do you still have it? Patches didn’t take to city life very well, so I sent him to go live on a farm where he could have all the freedom he wanted and all the basketballs he could find.
Ok enough of the donkey. Where did the idea for the high kicking bronco-buckin’ giraffe come from? My eldest daughter is very tall and all her friends call her the giraffe. The idea of a bronco-buckin’ giraffe has everyone in hysterical laughter each time it’s read.
Chris: The illustration came to mind before the text did and it seemed like the perfect way to describe the giraffe.
Tooth on the Loose is another favorite of ours. I truly believe that every family that has a child with a loose tooth needs to read this book. What inspired you to write a loose tooth into the wild wild west?
Chris: When my oldest son, Carter, was in Kindergarten, he came home one day with a pink paper tooth around his neck. On it were the words, “I Lost a Tooth Today.” The idea for the western theme immediately popped into my head and T.B. Wiggly was born.
What are some favorite books in the Robertson family?
Chris: We really like the classics like “Where the Wild Things Are”, “Harry the Dirty Dog”, and “The Giving Tree”. But more recently, I enjoy the works of Peter Reynolds (“The Dot”), Amy Krouse Rosenthal (“Little Pea”), and anything by Julia Dweck.
What’s next for you?
Chris: My latest book is a collaboration with Julia Dweck called Pandora’s Box. After that, I’ve got several books on the horizon. In the next few months, keep an eye out for My Yellow Umbrella, Harry and the Hot Lava, The Sweetest Halloween Story Ever Told, and Jack’s Climb, another book by Julia.
Side Note from Valarie: Recently, I woke up and discovered it was a perfect day in a perfect world. That perfection was in the way of Julia Dweck and Chris Robertson releasing “Pandora’s Box.” How perfect that one of my favorite authors and one of my favorite author/illustrators joined together to create one wonderful read! It’s simply Pandora perfect ! Oh and to top that, I also discovered that in the making of that book they both had become penguins. Who knew ?
To find out more about Chris: