Erin Clarke is a senior editor at Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, where she has worked for eleven years. Authors and illustrators with whom she works include Markus Zusak, Julia Alvarez, Meghan McCarthy, Lesley M.M. Blume, Anna Alter, Mark Alan Stamaty, Karen Foxlee, Mick Cochrane, Barbara Jean Hicks, and Sue Hendra. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and one-year-old daughter, who enjoys eating broccoli (albeit with lots of butter).
How did you discover MONSTERS DON’T EAT BROCCOLI and what was your reaction? What are your hopes for this title?
I first saw Sue Hendra’s illustrations for the project in the UK in 2005, and I instantly fell in love with her monsters. Sue had written a text for a novelty book, which is the format in which the British publisher originally wanted to publish MONSTERS DON’T EAT BROCCOLI, but I thought it would work well as a traditional picture book. I had just worked with Barbara Jean Hicks on a wonderful picture book called THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER KITTY and thought her sensibility would match Sue’s illustrations perfectly.
My hope for this book is that kids will want to read it again and again and again (the real sign of a successful picture book in my mind). The text is bouncy and fun to read aloud, and the illustrations are hilarious, vibrant, and full of details to pore over. Of course, I love the message about eating healthily and the fact that it is conveyed in a completely non-didactic way.
The bold, colorful artwork in MONSTERS is a perfect match with the text, as it not only supports the words but enhances them. Can you tell us about the process you went through in matching up Barbara Jean Hicks and Sue Hendra?
I think I answered this above, but with all picture books, you want to the text and illustrations to work together equally to tell a story, and Barbara and Sue managed to do just so with incredible humor and fun. They share a similar sensibility even though they use different mediums.
What’s your favorite children’s joke?
My favorite book-related joke:
Q: What do Sea Monsters eat for lunch?
A: Fish and ships
Thanks so much, Erin!