Publishers' Preview: Picture Books and Graphic Novels: Five Questions for Jonathan Case

This interview originally appeared in the November/December 2022 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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At the start of Little Monarchs, we think we’re going on a graphic-novel nature walk with a mother and daughter, but the truth is very — even apocalyptically — different!

1. How much did you know about monarch butterflies going in?

Almost nothing, and that was the pleasure of it. I also didn’t know much about any of the things the characters in Little Monarchs are good at. I’m a little less helpless in the woods now. I wanted to write something that would force me out of the house and into more lived experiences. Originally I called the book The Guidebook, hoping it would work that way for some readers, too. That was the goal, anyway.

2. Who would you want to have with you in a post-apocalyptic world?

Someone with a really good sense of humor.

3. What’s the difference between a cartoon and a drawing?

A cartoon’s just a type of drawing, but it’s usually designed to convey the essential information very quickly. The reading experience should be fluid between art and text. Even beautifully rendered drawings look hideous if you paste word balloons and text over them carelessly. Both elements need to mesh.

4. What quality in Elvie do you most miss in yourself?

She’s decisive. I have analysis paralysis. The odds of my ever choosing something to watch on Netflix are very, very low.

5. Will we see her again?

I don’t know yet. Graphic novels are mammoth tasks, so if it happens, it’d be a fair number of years from now. And my family and I need time to breathe a little and work toward more financial stability…all the real-world concerns. But I do love Elvie. We’ll see.

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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.

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