Interview with Chris Haughton

First off, congrats! We adored Shh! We Have a Plan! Can you tell us a bit about how you came up with the idea for the book?
CH: Thanks so much! In all my books I try to think of a sort of theatrical ‘pantomime’ effect when you turn the page. It’s fun to read aloud. In this book I got the idea from the Road Runner cartoons, I thought it would be great to read out if there were characters all ready to pounce on a small bird who is only inches away and but when the page is turned they end up messing up and catching themselves or falling in a river. To add to the comedy I had three bird-catchers. I wanted it to be a little bit like the three stooges. [Check out this blog post and this Vimeo for more.]

!cid_1B5DA63C-194D-4C6B-907D-73ADFFC782F1@zyxelWhat kinds of considerations were made in the making of this book in regards to your use of color and the choice of words? And did you consider any other endings?
CH: I try to make the language as simple as possible, and cut anything superfluous out. That way the youngest children can understand, and its more fun to read out because you only have a few lines so you can make the most of them. I try to tell the story through pictures. I wanted to differentiate the bird from the rest of the book, to make the bird colourful so that when the surprise comes at the end there is a big splash of colour to make it more effective.

!cid_72CB6900-BDD6-4693-83C9-2BFBECC3F08D@zyxelDid you have any ideas that didn’t make it into the book?
CH: It used to have different lines. It used to go a little bit more like a thought-process unfolding across four characters

Its up there!
What will we do?
Let me think…
Don’t worry, I have a plan!

Originally the book was going to be called ‘Don’t worry, I have a plan!’ I kind of preferred that title originally but it just didn’t fit the new story.

Are there any differences in the way you approach your work as an illustrator and that as a graphic designer?
CH: Not really actually, I approach most things in a quite similar way. I suppose it is trying to identify the essence of the thing. With illustrating books it is their story, and when you try to identify what makes the story tick and try to strip that down you can then fiddle about with it and try to amplify the humour or the emotion.

If you don’t mind telling us, what are you working on next?
CH I just finished a big project at a London Hospital. I am working on two books, one is a very simple book about going to sleep, it has a similar format to Eric Carle’s ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ with the step-cut pages. It has a word count of about 50 words right now… my new record! Shh has 98. The other book is a non-fiction for much older children, right now its called ‘The History of Information’. It follows the history of writing, print, media to the internet and the present day. It is told in large infographics and visuals by me and is being written by Loonie Park.


Thanks so much, Chris! You can follow Chris at his blog, or on Twitter.