Ask the Author
April 22, 2021
Jon Klassen is an author and illustrator. He’s written four books for kids. They have been published in many languages. TIME for Kids asked Klassen five questions about his work.
Did you always like to write and draw?
In the second or third grade, I started writing stories. And I drew pictures to go with them. I still sort of work that way. I don’t have a huge interest in making pictures if there’s not a story.
What’s your process for creating a new story?
I don’t start with an ending in mind, or even a whole story. I start with the setup. Hopefully, that setup gives birth to some characters. The characters have to feel natural. If I feel like I’m forcing them to do what they’re doing, the book won’t work, even if the setup is funny.
How do you know a story is finished?
I tinker with it until it feels like it has ended. I like to try to change the idea of what an ending feels like. It might not be a traditional ending. But it will still cause something to click in your head, so you say, “That’s done.”
How do you make pictures?
I do a lot of tests. I might paint 12 big rocks on a page. I’ll circle my favorite four rocks. Then I scan them. On my computer, I assemble those rocks with all my other pieces. I try to make the page feel cohesive .
What is your favorite part of writing books for kids?
Kids are careful readers, and they focus hard on what they read. I can count on kids to pick up on details. It’s an honor .
The Rock from the Sky is Jon Klassen’s newest book. It contains five stories about three animals. It’s also about friendship, jealousy, and the future. Like all of Klassen’s books, this one begins with a problem: There’s a giant rock falling from the sky. And it’s heading straight for the turtle. What will happen next?