Owls are Good at Keeping Secrets is now available in bookshops and online. I spent the past week in Toronto and there are now signed copies of the book available at Ella Minnow Books, Queen Books, Type Books, and the delightful Penguin Shop.

In the new year I will be doing events at La Petite Librairie Drawn & Quarterly in Montreal and Stories Bookshop & Storytelling Lab in Brooklyn.

I did an interview with Sonali Karnick for CBC Radio about the book that you can listen to here.

Scroll down for a profile of illustrator Jacob Grant. 


Creator Q & A with Jacob Grant

It was a real pleasure working with Jacob Grant on Owls Are Good at Keeping Secrets.  His art for this book is almost impossibly charming, and one of the things I most adore about it is how he captures small intimacies between parents and children in such a familiar way.

To celebrate our publication date this week, Jacob was good enough to answer a few questions for me and to share a glimpse at his work-in-progress, along with photos of his workspace and his family.

How did you end up working as a picture book creator?
As far back as I can remember, I've loved making art. I was constantly drawing through grade school, high school and eventually art school where I majored in graphic design. Graphic design proved to be a fine way to turn my BFA into a job with a paycheck, but was never satisfying as a creative outlet. So, I would draw in my free time. Nights and weekends were an opportunity to make something that felt meaningful. It was around this time that I thought it would be an interesting challenge to make a picture book, and maybe, just maybe, it could be my key to pursuing illustration as a full time job. That book was fairly bad. But I kept writing more stories and making more art, until eventually I made something a publisher was willing to publish.

What animal do you most identify with?
The noble and stubborn goat. When I was very little my parents lived way out in the country, and there they raised a small herd of goats. All of their names started with H, beginning with Heidi, and then Halley, and Harley, and Henny and so on. After my parents found a home closer to the city, they gave the majority of the herd to a neighbor, but two of the goats moved along with us. I was proud to have unusual pets like Heidi and Henny. To be honest, they didn’t do much besides loaf around and eat grass, but I adored them all the same.
Now whenever I see goats, at a petting zoo or otherwise, I always feel some affinity for them. I admire their curious and determined nature, their adorable desire to leap on top of objects, and their willingness to attempt eating just about anything. Nice beards even.

What are you working on now?
I recently finished the art for my follow-up to Bear’s Scare, which is currently titled, Bear Out There. In this new story, Bear ventures out of his tidy home and into the messy forest to help his friend Spider find a lost kite. As their search through the forest goes from bad to worse, Bear and Spider show readers that being a friend means being there for each other, no matter what. This new story will be on shelves in June 2019.
I’ve also just began illustrating a new picture book written by Susannah Lloyd, that involves mind-reading, a scientist, and farting elephants. It’s very serious stuff.

What was your favourite book as a child?
I adored many picture books as a child, but it’s difficult to pick one that would have been my absolute favorite above all others. I adored stories like Swimmy, Where The Wild Things Are, Gregory the Terrible Eater, and Stone Soup, (the version with the pigs). But after thinking more, the one picture book that feels especially significant would be the one that came from Jon Scieszka’s visit to my grade school in a semi-rural suburb outside of Cincinnati. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales will always have a special stupid place in my heart.

What's the best thing about making books for children?
Children are simply the best audience you could ever ask for. Their curiosity and enthusiasm for the world around them never ceases to amaze or inspire me. Plus their books are loaded with art!  Do you ever think about how wonderful that is? That somewhere down the line we all agreed that children should be provided books that are brimming with beautiful imagery. For me, such a lush combination of words and images feels like storytelling at its finest.

Jacob's most recent books are Bear's Scare and Through with the Zoo. You can see more of his work here.