Allison's Book Bag

A Canadian Won The Caldecott?

Posted on: February 11, 2014

JonKlassenImagine my surprise when I discovered that the 2013 Caldecott winner, John Klassen, is a Canadian writer and illustrator. After all, the Caldecott is an American award. Moreover, Klassen was born in Manitoba and grew up in Ontario, where he also studied animation at Sheridan College.

However, after his graduation in 2005, Klassen moved to Los Angeles. For about five years, he worked doing illustration and design for animation studios. While at his first book illustration job from Simon & Schuster, according to Seven Impossible Things, Klassen liked the book format more than he expected to and decided to try to make it a full-time job.

Some of Klassen’s notable accomplishments listed in Gallery Nucleus and Wikipedia include:

  • In 2006, he worked an animated music video by U2, on the animation for Kung Fu Panda and Coraline, and a TV spot for BBC’s coverage of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
  • In 2010, he achieved international recognition when he was awarded the Governor General’s Award (which incidentally is a Canadian award) for English-language children’s illustration for illustrating Carolyn Stutson’s Cats’ Night Out.
  • In 2011, his picture book I Want My Hat Back was selected among the “10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books for 2011” by The New York Times. Apparently, there has been some controversy over whether the book’s ending, where one character kills another without consequence, is appropriate in a children’s book. However, I Want My Hat Back has also achieved considerable commercial success, and even became an internet meme when people started “posting their own versions of the story.”
  • In 2012, he won the Caldecott Medal for This is Not My Hat. It is not considered a sequel to his 2011 picture book, which also featured a hat. In the same year, Klasson also had the unusual fortune of a recipient of a Caldecott Honor too, as the illustrator of Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett.
  • Most recently, in 2013, Klassen illustrated The Dark written by Lemony Snicket published in 2013.

Klassen work at his home, in a medium-sized room with a tilted ceiling. According to Seven Impossible Things, he does a lot of random texture samples on pieces of paper, which are everywhere around his house and eventually get scanned into the computer. One wall is even covered in cork where he pins up things that he like. Dividing out pages, pacing the illustrations, and figuring out the visual rules of the story are his favorite parts. That same process goes for writing too, except here Klassen is also in control of the text too. He feels that so far, “it’s been a nice road”.

With the above credits, I would have to concur. To see more of his art, check out his Tumbler page. You can also return tomorrow to read my review of This is Not My Hat. Save the date: February 10!

How would you rate this book?


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Happy New Year!

Allison’s Book Bag is currently on hiatus. I will return after a much-needed rest with reviews of Advanced Reader Copies including: Freddy Frogcaster and the Flash Flood by Janice Dean, One Two by Igor Eliseev, Incredible Magic of Being by Kathyrn Erskine, Dragon Grammar Book by Diane Robinson, and Wide as the Wind by Edward Stanton.



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