Otto and Uncle Tooth series, Patrick Bear series, and Benny and Penny series author and When the Wind Blew (Margaret Wise Brown) illustrator Geoffrey Hayes participates in the Graphic Novel Author Panel on Wednesday, May 2, at the IRA Annual Convention in Chicago. In this interview with Reading Today, he talks about his passion for book from an early age and how graphic novels can facilitate both verbal and visual literacy in children.
Reading Today: What got you interested in writing books for children?
Geoffrey Hayes: I have always had a wild imagination. Had I written books for adults, they probably would have been Fantasy or Horror books. I have such fond recollections of my mother reading to my brother and me. It was a nightly ritual, continuing past the time when we were able to read on our own. The rhythm and cadence of the words gave me a love of good writing, and especially the particular magic of children's books. Since I'm also an artist, children's books seemed like a good marriage of my two loves.
RT: What do consider your best book to date and why?
GH: It's difficult to say what my best book is, having done Early Readers, Picture Books, and Graphic novels, each with their own set of challenges, but I'm going to pick my second book, The Alligator and His Uncle Tooth -- A Novel of the Sea. I love the way this one turned out. I was able to hit on the perfect voice. It contains some of my best writing and has a good mixture of adventure, whimsy and emotion. It inspired my Otto and Uncle Tooth series of Beginning Readers. Although it's been out of print for a number of years, I am currently adapting it as a Graphic Novel.
RT: What can attendees at IRA Chicago expect to hear from you?
GH: As I kid I loved comic books and read them along with more traditional fiction. While my brother and I were both good readers, I believe reading comics assisted us in honing our skills. I enjoy speaking about how Comics/Graphic Novels can facilitate both verbal and visual literacy in children. I discuss elements unique to this medium that support this and explain why I find creating these kinds of books to be so rewarding.
Read about the author and see Benny and Penny series sample pages and an online reader on the Toon Books website
. For more information about the 2012 IRA Annual Convention in Chicago from April 29 to May 2, visit www.iraconvention.org
Geoffrey Hayes Will Be There…Will You?