Meet the Author:
Welcome to Elephant Notes . . . our periodic take on some of the ideas, issues, and news impacting parents, children, and reading.
Eric Telchin’s book, The Color Factory, is interactive, vibrant, and fun. This month, we were delighted to speak with Eric about the inspiration for his books, learn more about his creative process, and hear what children’s books mean to him.
The Color Factory takes us on a tour of a very colorful building. Guided by Penguin, Zebra, and Panda, readers will find plenty of factory-approved colors. When the perfect replicator machine mixes a new color, though, readers will take on their very own important role in the story! Learn all about the ideas behind this interactive read in our interview with author Eric Telchin.
Your first picture book, See A Heart, Share A Heart, features your own photographs of naturally occurring heart shapes, which started as the ‘Boy Sees Hearts’ project. What inspired you to turn this idea into a children’s book?
The inspiration for the book came almost as serendipitously as the puddle of chocolate ice cream that melted into that first heart. As the Boy Sees Hearts project began taking shape, I started noticing the letter grouping A-B-C everywhere I went. It eventually clicked: I needed to create a children’s book. It was a perfect vehicle to spread the gift of hearts.
Before your books were published, you studied and worked in art and design. What role has this background played in the creative process of writing?
My education and training helped develop my imagination and gave me the tools to solve problems creatively. Thinking visually has helped me immensely in structuring plots, crafting characters, and giving the illustrator the space to bring the characters and story to life. When I worked as a motion graphics designer I learned about timing and pacing as it relates to design—very helpful with creating picture books.
The Color Factory teaches an important lesson: it’s okay if things don’t go exactly to plan. In fact, things might turn out more vibrant and fun than imagined. What motivated you to share this message in your book?
My children’s book career was inspired by a puddle of melted ice cream. Inspiration can come from anywhere, and something as commonplace as a spill can be turned into something magical. But one has to be open. On some level, all three of my books rely on the theme of openness—being open to inspiration, being open to color, being open to revising systems and rules that aren’t working. I think my openness is a quality that has allowed me to share these books with the world. Being open to new ideas, feedback and collaboration has allowed me to create in ways I hadn’t imagined so I can reach the greatest possible audience.
We love that The Color Factory is a highly interactive book, full of silly tasks for little hands. Its lively plot and enthusiastic characters invite the reader to participate and engage with the turn of each page. How did you decide to pursue this unconventional narration style for your books?
Picture books are a celebration of interactivity—between reader and book, between parent and child. I like pushing that interactivity even further, so that a picture book can be as interactive as an app—and hopefully more fun.
Diego Funck’s detailed illustrations complement your words in The Color Factory to create a comic-like story. How much input did you have in the illustration, and what was it like working together to create this unique experience for your readers?
I actually had very little input other than tweaking a spread later in the book. I worked with an amazing team at Little Bee, and am so thrilled with what we accomplished together.
What is your favorite part of writing children’s books?
I love the creative process. Collaborating with other creative people–not just the illustrator, but my brilliant literary agent, editors, art directors, etc.. Also, it’s incredibly rewarding to share the finished book with the world and witness its impact.
When you look around at the current state of kids and reading, what would you say are the biggest challenges for parents or opportunities to address?
If we can get more readers to read for pleasure earlier on, I think they will be set up for success. With my work, I am always trying to hook that reluctant reader so they’re reminded how much fun reading is. Let’s make sure kids are reading the right books so they fall in love with reading as early in their lives as possible.
I’m fortunate enough to sit on the Board for the Creative Center for Education, a groundbreaking educational non-profit here in West Palm Beach that has been revolutionizing education through arts integration for the past 25 years. I have seen first-hand the power of arts integration and how that helps kids use their imagination, think creatively, and develop their reading skills.
Any upcoming children’s books we can look forward to reading?
Yes! I’m working on several projects—details to come!
Big thanks to Eric Telchin for sharing some insight into his creative process and the role early reading plays in helping kids succeed. We are excited for subscribers to experience The Color Factory, and we can’t wait to see what comes next!
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