Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Q&A with Ged Adamson

Ged Adamson is the author of the new children's picture book A Fox Found a Box. His other books include Douglas, You're a Genius! and Douglas, You Need Glasses!. He lives in London.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for A Fox Found a Box?

A: I came up with the idea when I was looking at footage of a fox jumping into the snow to catch food. You know that thing foxes do in winter in icy places? They leap up and then almost vertically dive into the snow like a swimmer. It’s really cute to us but pretty much life and death to them, ha ha. I thought it would be interesting if the fox found something odd that wasn’t food.

I liked the idea of doing a story about music and sound. Music has always been really important to me and so this has been a really special project. And Schwartz & Wade is the perfect home for this book. 

People have said how a lot of readers won’t know what a radio is but the whole thing about the story is that the animals don’t know either. It’s not important. To the fox and his friends, the radio is just this weird object that makes beautiful noise.

Q: You noted in our last interview that your illustration style in this new book is different from that in your Douglas books. How did you come up with this style for A Fox Found a Box?

A: I thought that the story needed a different, softer style than the Douglas books. Watercolour and pencil used in a looser way. It’s a very elemental setting and I wanted to reduce the use of line in this as much as possible. It’s pretty much all against a snowy background so there was an opportunity to dispense with outlines altogether. The only real outlined object is the radio and this helps to accentuate its non-natural and man-made character.

Also I wanted to give things more texture than I would in a Douglas book so you can really see the use of watercolour paint and even the grain of the paper I used.

Q: This time around, did you work on the text along with the illustrations, or did you start with one and then move to the other?

A: This book was a real evolving project. The words and images pretty much came together at the beginning but that was kind of the basic foundation. The story progressed a lot once I started working with Lee (Wade).

What was great about A Fox Found A Box was that the feeling and emotion of the story were intact from the very start. The hard work was trying to catch the perfect way of expressing this - almost like the fox jumping in the snow trying to catch his dinner!

A lot of times stories don’t have a “punchline” but you’re left with something that’s hard to put your finger on - an emotion that finishes the story in a nice way. Hopefully that’s how this book leaves the reader.

Q: What else do you hope kids take away from the story?

A: I’d like kids to consider how sound can make them feel. In the book, the animals don’t just respond to sounds in an exuberant, dancing way - they react in a range of ways.

For instance, water is something that can make you feel different things. Waves crashing and the bubbling of a stream won’t move you in the same manner, yet they’re both strangely reassuring sounds. 

A piece of music can make you feel sad and actually make you cry but, oddly, the experience is positive not negative.

Also it’s not necessarily the natural world of forests and rivers that only create beautiful sound - cities are a feast! Children can stop and listen wherever they are. True silence rarely happens.

This book is not about getting children away from their devices. I think too much is made of that. It’s simply suggesting that to be more aware of - and interested in - the world around you makes for a more fun and enriching life.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I’m working on a story about an elephant. I’m also illustrating a really nice thing for Simon & Schuster here in London. There are bears and baboons in it and it’s about school.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: Art from A Fox Found A Box has been selected to be in this year’s Society of Illustrators Original Art Show in NYC. I’m really thrilled about this and you can check out the details here.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Ged Adamson.

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