Interview: Dan Santat

I am very excited to be celebrating 3 Ninja Pigs with Mr. Schu and Nerdy Book Club.

Be sure to head on over to Mr. Schu’s blog to read his interview with author Corey Rosen Schwartz.

Now that you know all about Corey, please head on over to the Nerdy Book Club and check out her Nerdy Book Club post.

Now it’s my turn. I am so excited to have the opportunity to interview kid lit rock star Dan Santat. My questions are in red and his responses in black. Enjoy!

Please booktalk The Three Ninja Pigs in fewer than 140 characters.

The Three Ninja Pigs is the story of the Three Little Pigs meets Steven Segal, The Karate Kid, and Enter the Dragon

You and Corey Rosen Schwartz are a perfect match. What were your first thoughts when you saw the story that she had written?

I immediately felt like it was a perfect fit for me. The story had the same energy of Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) and I could already clearly envision every image in my head. My plate was already full for the year before I accepted the job, but in the end I made time for it and I think it turned out to be the best illustrated picture book I worked on this year.

Are you most like Pig One, Pig Two, or Pig Three?

I’m definitely pig three. I always have to see things to the end. When I was a kid I spent seven years earning my black belt in Shotokan karate and there were definitely times I felt like I wanted to quit, but I stuck with it. Sometimes, this discipline can work against me. There are moments when I go to a restaurant and I’ll decide to experiment and order a new dish only to realize it’s just awful. The problem with me is that I’ll finish that awful bowl of food just to teach myself a lesson to never make such a bad decision ever again. I’ve hated watching Grey’s Anatomy for years now (long after my wife stopped watching it with me) and for some reason I HAVE to know what happens to these awful characters. I HATE GREY’S ANATOMY! WHY AM I STILL DOING THIS TO MYSELF!??!?!

What are some of your favorite fractured fairy tales?

“The True Story of the Three Little Pigs” and “Stinky Cheese Man” by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith made me want to get into children’s publishing. They are the kings.

Picture books are…

….Extremely underrated in difficulty to write. The task of boiling down a metaphor into an interesting story that’s usually under a thousand words while still maintaining the simplicity of the message is already a tough challenge. Then add the additional challenge of filling that book with illustrations that are supposed to tell more of the story. The story that lies in between the lines of text. Then try to make those two tasks speak to the five year old child in you that existed years ago, and do it well.

Reading is…

…the first step from becoming a child and on to becoming a self thinking individual. In different stages in your life books mean different things to different people, but I think the one thing almost everyone can say is that the first thing they ever read was a picture book. Ask yourself what was the first book you read and I bet you know off the top of your head. Mine was “Danny the Dinosaur” by Syd Hoff. As an adult you probably don’t remember the feelings that go through your head of that moment you were consciously aware that you were reading for the first time, but I can remember it like it was yesterday. It’s not so much reading your very first word that makes you a reader, it’s the act of reading whole entire sentences that makes someone fully aware that they are a reader. It’s easy to forget because it’s like a switch and one day you just get it. The day you learn to read is a miraculous day that’s all thanks to picture books.

Mr. Sharp, you should have asked me about…

… The time I hung out with Rhea Perlman and Danny Devito at their Malibu Beach home when my wife and I were suddenly introduced to George Clooney. (True story. See “Otto Undercover”) Or maybe my new picture book I’m writing/illustrating over at Little,Brown called “Beekle” (working title) or my new graphic novel I’m writing/illustrating over at Scholastic called (Can’t tell you just yet)


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