Jacqueline K. Rayner is the author of the children's picture book Hats Are Not for Cats!. She lives in London.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Hats Are Not for Cats!?
A: Hats Are Not for Cats! came about as a line of text that popped into my head one day: "Hats are not for cats!"
Although it seemed a rather vague concept at the time, I thought it seemed like something fun to develop and began to imagine who the characters might be and what sort of scenario might play out around this line of text and the book developed from there.
Q: Did you work on the text first or the illustrations--or both simultaneously?
A: With this book, the words were written before I started any of the illustrations, but that’s quite unusual, as with other books I've done the writing and pictures develop simultaneously.
I love the planning stage of the book the most and the books usually develop after endless storyboards have been drawn and redrawn, the words written and re-written over and over again.
My favourite moments are when an opportunity arises to tell a part of the story with just a picture and no words at all. It’s great when that happens!
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story?
A: It’s always great when kids can learn something important from their picture books; however, my original intention was to create something that was just lots of fun and could make kids laugh and hopefully their parents too. Many of my favourite books are ones that are just pure silliness. I think there should be more of it!
Q: What are some of your favorite picture books?
A: I'm an avid book collector of both old and modern-day children's books and my collection is enormous, so this a really hard question!
If I had to name some, I guess I would say some favourites are The Bald Twit Lion by Spike Milligan, Veronica by Roger Duvoisin, You’re a Rude Pig, Bertie! by Claudia Boldt, and anything by Viviane Schwarz - she is an absolute genius. The Great Dog Bottom Swap by Peter Bently is another huge favourite!
My all-time heroes are Judith Kerr and Beatrix Potter, my favourite in particular being The Tale of Jeremy Fisher – it’s hilarious! I could go on but I'm going to stop myself here.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I'm currently working on many new books, but my main project at the moment is my upcoming second picture book. It was inspired by the time my real-life cat went missing, but don't worry, he did come back, and the outcome of it is a humorous book about a cat on a big adventure.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I'm currently working on many new things, and it’s not all about cats! I hope I can share more with you soon.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb