Interview with Board Book Winner Janik Coat

What inspired you to create this series of books for the youngest readers?

In 2010, I published in Europe a big book called Mon Hippopotame; Abrams books wanted to publish it in a smaller size and called it Hippoposites…They were so excited that I suggested we meet in Bologna in 2013 to imagine a book I could do exclusively for Abrams; I created Cyrus the blue rhino and Abrams wanted something very closed to Hippoposites, that’s how this series was born… I was so satisfied of the quality of these books that Llamaphones came naturally.

How did you come upon using llamas for Homophones? (We wouldn’t have readily made that connection!)

Either would I !!!! I think the Llama was Abrams’ idea in that case. I thought: “Nice !!! it’s a very funny and endearing animal.” I don’t regret it!!!!!!

Your books are really quite funny; we don’t often see such sly humor in board books. Did you get any push-back from your publisher about including humor in a book for your target readers?

It is the best compliment I can get!!!

The day I have no more humorous ideas I will stop making books!

However, the collaboration with my publisher was valuable and impactful. We learn more when we have fun!

What’s the most memorable interaction you’ve had reading this book to a child?

Llamaphones is not published in Europe so I haven’t made workshops about these book yet; but I have had beautiful exchanges with a class of students in north east US and they helped me to imagine my next book that could be Pandagraphs… ?? They’d like me to visit them… one day maybe… I often travel to meet different audiences.

If you don’t mind telling us, what’s next for you?

Pandagraphs? ha ha! a fourth one maybe… ???

But I created a new character and I would like him to be published by Abrams, something different from the series…

In Paris, I’m working on a book for 0-100 years old on the theme of LOVE… and many other projects in Europe and elsewhere…

Thank you so much for your time!