Chris Gall talks about his new picture book, Dinotrux–just named a Publisher’s Weekly Best Children’s Book for 2009!
Describe your book:
Dinotrux is about an ancient race of primitive trucks that apparently existed millions of years ago. It turns out that they had not yet evolved into the kind, helpful trucks we have today.
How did you get the idea for the Dinotrux?
Dinotrux was inspired by a day stuck in traffic. As I was passing through an area of road construction on the highway outside of town, I watched a great line of heavy earth-movers lumbering in the median, making groaning sounds, and carving out a new road in the dirt. They seemed eerily reminiscent of dinosaurs—and my imagination took over. What if these same earth-moving trucks had ancestors? What if all trucks had primitive ancestors that existed millions of years ago and then somehow evolved into the kind, helpful trucks we have today? What would they have looked like? What would their personalities have been like? And what in the world happened to them?
Did you like dinosaurs or trucks better when you were a kid?
I think I liked trucks better because I knew that some day I might actually own one. That’s rarely true with dinosaurs.
Which is harder for you, writing or drawing?
Always the writing. Because if the story isn’t just right, all the illustrations in the world aren’t going to help it.
What do you use to make your illustrations?
I have used everything an artist can use—pencils, paint, pastel, watercolor, wood block engraving, and my new favorite tool—my computer.
How do you work?
I work form 7am until 6pm almost every day. Every day is different because it all depends on what phase of a book I am working on at the time. I have a nice studio in my house so I don’t have to go anywhere. That way I can work in my jammies if I want.
What were you like as a kid?
I was usually described as “lacking self-control” on my report card. I was a day-dreamer and a class clown. I was always taking apart electronic devices and sometimes getting them back together again. I was interested in something new every day. And that hasn’t really changed.
Did you like school? What was your favorite subject? Why?
I loved school and I doubt if I ever missed a day. My favorite subject was science, and later on, art.
What’s the grossest or most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you as a kid?
I was once beaten up by football players for using the word “melancholy” at just the wrong moment.
If you weren’t an author/illustrator, what would you be? Why?
Hmmmm, tough question. Perhaps a mad scientist. They seem to have lots of adventures. A Pirate is out of the question because I get sea-sick.
What’s one thing you’d love to learn to do?
Play the piano. I’ve had one in my living room for 10 years and its not going to learn to play itself!
What’s the coolest place you’ve ever been?
A town in Switzerland called Kleine Scheidegg. It sits high in the alps in the shadow of three great mountains—the Eiger, the Monch, and the Jungfrau.
We loved your book! Is there a similar book from a different author that’d you’d recommend for kids who liked yours?
I always liked Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.
I am currently working on my next book, Substitute Creacher, due out in spring 2011.