Publishers' Preview: Picture Books and Graphic Novels: Five Questions for John Hare

This interview originally appeared in the November/December 2020 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Picture Books and Graphic Novels, an 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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Following an eventful trip to the moon, the class now undertakes a Field Trip to the Ocean Deep. Don’t forget the camera!

1. Your own most memorable field trip?

One time we loaded up on a bus and took a three-hour drive from my hometown to Kansas City (Missouri), where we visited the Liberty Memorial — a WWI monument that stands over two hundred feet high, with a “flame” at the top (created by steam and lighting effects) and enormous reliefs carved down the sides. I remember standing at the base looking up and being overwhelmed by the size of it. Flanking the monument are two huge sphinxes covering their eyes with their wings to shield them from the horrors of war. I was just a kid, but that stuck with me!

2. How do you handle getting lost?

I like to think I have naturally good bearings and can read maps and identify landmarks well. That completely unfounded confidence, combined with an aversion to asking for directions, makes me a bear-snack-in-waiting.

3. How do you test-drive a wordless book?

If I think I have an idea that might have merit, I’ll make a quick mockup and pass it by my awesome writing/illustrating group (the Remarkable Monkeys). If what I’m trying to say with illustrations is unclear or if there’s a hang-up in the pacing, they let me know!

4. The British edition of Field Trip to the Moon did have text. How did that happen?

Macmillan UK made an offer on it, but they were concerned that wordless books don’t do well in that market, so they requested that one of their authors, Jeanne Willis, add words. It was my first foreign rights offer ever, and I figured it could be a neat experiment. Jeanne did a wonderful job, and I loved seeing her interpretation from the alien POV.

5. Where to next?

Into the caldera of a volcano! There are so many cool places I want to take this class, but I have to make sure each adventure is exciting and unique!

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Photo: Sherry Hare.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton

Editor Emeritus Roger Sutton was editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc., from 1996-2021. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his MA in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a BA from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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