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Fall 2016 Publishers’ Preview: Five Questions for Brian Won

Publishers' Previews

This interview originally appeared in the September/October 2016 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Fall Publishers’ Preview, a semiannual advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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Photo: Sharon Kanes

Poor Owl — she’s wide awake and ready to play in Brian Won’s Hooray for Today!. Her diurnal friends, however, are all getting ready for bed.

1. The dedication is to “all the parents who’ve wished their wide-awake child would just go to sleep.” Have you been there?

BW: Unfortunately, yes. I am a six-year member of the “my kid wakes up in the middle of the night” club. Even while I was working on Hooray for Today!, our little night owl woke up at three every morning for a whole week.

2. Owl comes up with some interesting ways to “help” her friends. What are some bedtime methods you’ve tried?

BW: My wife and I have tried everything to help our son go back to sleep — soft music, milk, encouraging words, and, yes, even gentle threats. We have found that stroking his arm and tummy works best. However, for those nights when he can’t go back to sleep, we keep a bag of Cheerios and a stack of his favorite books ready by his bedside.

won_hooray-for-today3. Is this like Groundhog Day for Owl? Or are there “days” (nights, really) when her friends will play?

BW: I believe at least one friend will play with Owl — or, I should say, one of them must have played with Owl, thus encouraging this nightly routine of find-the-playmate. One night when our kid woke up, we decided as a family to embrace it. We piled into the car and went on a late-night French fry run. We called it “Backwards Day.”

4. The subdued colors are just right for the nighttime setting. What media did you use to create the art?

BW: The art was created with the salty tears of a sleep-deprived dad mixed with watercolor paint. Or at least it often felt that way. In reality, I use scanned watercolor textures mixed with vector illustrations created in Adobe Illustrator. No tears involved.

5. The theme of friendship is important in your picture books. What do you hope kids take away from this story?

BW: I hope kids will realize that even when a day ends badly, tomorrow will bring new and different kinds of joy, especially when good friends are nearby.

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