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  • Ratha Tep

Interview with Jonty Howley, THE ANIMAL SONG

Snap! Poom-poom! Jingle-Jangle! Three talented animals--a crocodile playing a snare drum, a big brown bear with a bass, and a weasel with a banjo--form a traveling band to sing and play for the other animals in the woods.

Max's Boat Pick:


By Jonty Howley

Published by Random House Studio (January 10, 2023)

Thanks for stopping by, Jonty! Let's start how these interviews always start. Can you tell me the origin story behind The Animal Song? JH: "As is often the case with my books, it began as a simple sketch. I was inspired after looking through some 1950s jazz posters, and I made a simple illustration of an animal trio. I immediately felt they had a story to tell, but It wasn’t until a year or so later that I returned to them and developed the idea into a story. The book is written to feel like a song, as it follows a constant rhythm throughout. In the end I made a free song and read-along which you can access here:"

Jonty Howley's original sketch (above) and color rough (below) for The Animal Song:

An interior spread from The Animal Song (text placement may be different from final book):

So fun! I definitely have a soft spot for instrument-playing animals. What are some other picture books you love that celebrate music? "There is an old Little Golden Book version of The Musicians of Bremen which has the most wonderful art by one of my favourite illustrators, John Parr (J.P.) Miller. He captured a real sense of the energy and joy of music in that book, and I love his unusual compositions!"

What forthcoming books are you most looking forward to getting your hands on? "I think it actually came out a short while ago, but I’ve been meaning to get a copy of The Mouse Who Carried a House on His Back by Jonathan Stutzman and Isabelle Arsenault. It looks like a future classic and the mixed media illustrations are stunning!"

What would be on your list of 100 best picture books of all time? "I love so many, but I won’t try to name 100! Here is a handful of personal favourites (in no particular order!) The Dangerous Journey by Tove Jansson Peter’s Chair by Ezra Jack Keats Out, Out, Away From Here by Rachel Woodworth and Sang Miao

The Musicians of Bremen illustrated by J.P. Miller The Animal Fair by Alice and Martin Provensen Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill


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