Tuesday, October 23, 2012

An Interview with Author David LaRochelle

Today and tomorrow I am featuring the author and illustrator of one of the best picture book read-alouds of the year: It's a Tiger! David LaRochelle (author) is here today, and Jeremy Tankard (illustrator) will be here tomorrow. Thank you, Jeremy and David!

Mr. Schu: Wow! It’s a Tiger is an exciting read-aloud that my kindergartners and first graders love.  What planted the seed for this imaginative tale? 

David LaRochelle: I wanted to write a story where the main character was a book that talked directly to the reader. The first version of this story began: “Thank you for taking me off the shelf. It feels good to have my pages turned.” My wise editor at Chronicle, Melissa Manlove, suggested that the story would work better for young kids without the book being an actual character, and I think she was right.

Click here to download the teacher's guide.
Mr. Schu: Thank you for creating a character who has a healthy imagination. What can an elementary school student do to strengthen his or her imagination?  
David LaRochelle:  Playing is one of the most important things that kids (or adults) can do to keep their imaginations strong. When I was growing up, my friends and I put on puppet shows, acted out scenes from our favorite movies (Mary Poppins and Alice in Wonderland), staged game shows, made haunted houses and carnivals, and pretended that we were survivors from the Titanic.

As an adult, I still love to play and pretend. My best friend and I are always making up silly stories about cows, and I often get together with friends and family to spend the evening playing board games.

Of course reading is another excellent way to stretch the imagination. Unlike television, reading encourages us to create our own pictures and we become much more active participants in the story.

Mr. Schu: What thought(s) entered your head the first time you saw Jeremy Tankard's ink and digital illustrations? 

David LaRochelle:  When I saw the illustrations for this book I was blown away by Jeremy’s vibrant colors, his rich textures, and the dynamic layouts. I was a little nervous when I heard that he was going to introduce a child into the pictures (I hadn’t envisioned the narrator ever being seen), but showing a child makes the book much more accessible to young readers and was a smart decision on Jeremy’s part. Even though I was originally hoping to illustrate the book myself, I’m very thankful they chose Jeremy instead; his illustrations bring a level of excitement to the book that I could have never achieved. 

Mr. Schu: I have a metafiction section in my school library. Do you have any favorite books about books? 

The Book that Eats People by John Perry and Mark Fearing is both funny and creepy; I think it’s great!

The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone and Michael Smollin is one of the cleverest books ever; it’s always been one of my favorites. 

And two of my favorite chapter books about books are Seven-Day Magic by Edward Eager, and The Neverending Story by Michael Ende – in both cases the characters reading the book become part of the story they are reading.

Mr. Schu: Please complete these sentences: 

Reading is magic. It can take us anywhere.

Picture books are for everybody. Some of the most beautiful/funny/creative/touching stories ever written are inside picture books. The artwork can be breathtaking. No one is ever too old to enjoy these wonderful books.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my pumpkins. Every October I have fun carving elaborate jack-o’-lanterns. Here’s a photo of a tiger-inspired pumpkin that I carved last week. You can find other pumpkins from past years at my website

I'm giving away one copy of It's a Tiger!

Rules for the Giveaway

1. It will run from 10/22 to 10/25. 

2. You must be at least 13.

3. Please pay it forward. :) 

Borrow It's a Tiger! from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops


  1. So glad you featured David LaRochelle. He's awesome in so many ways. Love him and love his books! I featured lots of David's cool carved pumpkins on my blog last year: http://donnagephart.blogspot.com/2010/10/6-12-ways-to-carve-fantastic-pumpkin.html.

  2. I met David LaRochelle at a writing conference a while back, and he was wonderful. I feel a special connection to him now, too, because I also loved The Monster at the End of This Book when I was a kid :) Would be fun to read it again. Thanks for a great interview!

  3. Congrats on this wonderful book! "It's a Tiger" is my favorite story of the year!

  4. One of my fourth graders picked up my copy of The Book That Eats People today to read to his kindergarten reading buddy. They both were eaten...