A Q&A with Author-illustrator Amanda Driscoll

Hi, Amanda! Thanks for dropping by Watch. Connect. Read. to chat with me about Duncan the Story Dragon. I adore the front and back endpapers. Please describe them for those who do not have Duncan the Story Dragon in front of them right now.

Amanda Driscoll: Thank you for having me! The front endpapers show Duncan hurrying off with a stack of books, eyes closed in anticipation of reading that perfect story. He is set against a monochromatic background of dots, inspired by the spots on his back. A tiny mouse peeks from behind a dot.

The back endpapers show the unfortunate results of Duncan’s enthusiasm for books. (Fire breath is a hot mess for this book-loving dragon.) The corner of the page is “burned”, and a remorseful Duncan says, “Oops. Sorry about your book”, while the mouse says, “Whoa. Must have been a good book.” You have to love the mouse!

Illustration Credit: Amanda Driscoll
What planted the seed for Duncan the Story Dragon?

Amanda Driscoll: The initial seed was planted many years ago, with my own love for reading. I knew I wanted to write a book that would convey to kids the joy of reading in a fun, kid-friendly fashion. I also thought that a dragon character would be interesting to illustrate. Then one day the two ideas merged: a dragon who loves books. From there, the central problem came easily. Fire breath and books are a combustible combination.

I am a HUGE fan of books about books and reading. I know it is hard to narrow it down to a handful of titles, but what are some of your favorite books about books?

Amanda Driscoll: One book about books that I find utterly charming is Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates. It captures the way I feel when I read. The illustrations are simple yet so expressive. Another favorite is The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce. The illustrations are gorgeous, and the magical story gives me goose bumps every time I read it. I love the quirkiness of The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers. I’m a big fan of his style. I also have to mention the oh-so-clever This Book Just Ate My Dog! by Richard Byrne. It’s not exactly about reading, but it’s incredibly inventive.

If we visited your studio right now, what would we see?

Amanda Driscoll: You would probably first notice my “Wally Wall”. I am currently illustrating my second book, Wally Does Not Want a Haircut, due out next summer from Knopf Books for Young Readers. I covered one wall of my studio in dummy sketches so I can refer to them as I’m working. Next you might notice an abundance of snack bags littering my desk. I nibble while I work.

Illustration Credit: Amanda Driscoll 
Please finish these sentence starters:

Reading is a doorway to other worlds and a pathway to new friends. Books let us know characters intimately. We see inside their minds and understand their feelings in a way no other medium can rival.

Visit Amanda's website

Picture books are vital to developing a child's love of reading. The moments spent reading to a child are magical. Even when my kids had become independent readers, I still read them picture books because that time together was so special.

Photo Credit: Amanda Driscoll
Bella and Molly are my two rowdy rescue dogs who should be given partial credit for every story I’ve ever written. They demand a walk every day, and I use that time to dream up stories or hammer out plots. Something about the movement of my feet frees up my mind. I remember the exact spot where the idea for Duncan the Story Dragon hit me. I spent the rest of that walk working out the plot then came home and started writing.
Amanda Driscoll and Dragon 
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me for a synopsis of Duncan the Story Dragon in 140 characters or less. I love economy of words!

Duncan the Story Dragon is about a dragon who gets so excited by stories that he breathes fire and incinerates his books.

121 characters and I even used the word “incinerate.” ;-)

Borrow Duncan the Story Dragon from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 


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