National Pet Day (April 11th) is the perfect time to celebrate Andy Myer‘s latest book, SOMETIMES YOU FIND A RED RHINOCEROS (PYP Academy Press).
Let’s get started!
Q 1. Welcome to the blog, Andy Myer! What was the inspiration for SOMETIMES YOU FIND A RED RHINOCEROS?
Andy Myer: I’ve always loved silly stories for children, giving them opportunities to laugh out loud. About three years ago I was in a coffee shop thinking about the most preposterous thing that might happen to a child. I suddenly had the notion of a kid bumping into a (then) purple hippopotamus and taking it home as a pet, and seeing what might happen.
Q 2. Which came first—the story or the illustrations?
Andy Myer: My process isn’t one or the other. I have to do both at the same time, because my illustrations and text play off one another. So from the very start I’m doodling little drawings with scribbled words next to them, creating a visual storyboard and text simultaneously.
Q 3. What might be one of the biggest challenges / and delights of each?
Andy Myer: The toughest challenge for me as an illustrator was finding an appealing characterization of the rhinoceros. Let’s face it, they’re frankly pretty scary. It took me a long time and many versions to arrive at a simple, expressive and charming rhino for the book.
For me the most enjoyable parts of illustrating a book like Sometimes You Find a Red Rhinoceros are finding the funniest juxtapositions of images and text, and adding small humorous details to complex drawings that children will enjoy discovering.
A book about YOU, the reader…
Andy Myer: My toughest conceptual problem was struggling with the gender/race of the child who finds the rhino. One day it struck me that the “You” in the book title could be the “you” the reader. In other words, could I create the pages so that the illustrations implied that the child protagonist was the person holding the book. I won’t claim it’s never been done before, but I do think it was a fairly original approach to take.
It took a lot of revision and careful layout to make this concept work, but I finally got there. I take it as a compliment that many people don’t realize there’s no child pictured in the book until after I point it out!
Q 4. Since it’s National Pet Day, do you have any pets? (Or did you?) A rhinoceros, perhaps?
Andy Myer: Unfortunately, my wife is allergic to rhinoceroses, so that was out for us. But I happily had two great dogs over 20+ years. However, at this point in my life, the constant demands of pet ownership have worn me out, so we don’t have a dog now. But I do have a fabulous and quirky grand-dog Lucy who often stays at our house for a few days a month, so I get my dog fix satisfied!
Q 5. What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
Andy Myer: First and foremost, laughter. I strongly believe that humor for children isn’t merely diversion. With all turmoil going on in the world, laughter is a major mental health coping mechanism. I wrote a blog on exactly that subject for Real Woman, a women’s health magazine.
Owning and caring for your pet.
Andy Myer: But there are some serious takeaways beneath the whimsy of SOMETIMES YOU FIND A RED RHINOCEROS. The first is the importance of caring for animals with an understanding of their needs. And there’s a lesson about love sometimes requiring sacrifice. When it becomes clear that the pet/owner relationship isn’t working, the child needs to make a difficult and emotional sacrifice for the sake of the rhinoceros. And of course, I hope the book helps build an attachment in children with animals like the rhino that are so endangered.
Q 6. What projects are you working on now?
Andy Myer: For some time, I’ve been working on Sadie Saves the World, an empowering book for children on taking on the enormous challenges of healing our environment. The risks to human survival are growing, and children will need huge amounts of energy, ingenuity, and optimism to build a sustainable world.
ED Note: That sounds like a book the Kids in Room 5 would like…*
To learn more about Andy Myer and his books, visit andymyer.com
and follow him on social media:
And GUESS WHAT????
You can support Andy Myer’s World Wildlife Fund fundraiser.
He’s gifting 25 signed copies of Sometimes You Find a Red Rhinoceros to WWF’s PandaNation site, all proceeds going to support rhinos and other endangered species. For details click here--or go to www.pandanation.org, and in the “Find” type in Andrew Myer. You will get a link to his donation page.
#worldwildlifefund #sierraclub #janegoodall #savetherhino