Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Jez Alborough - November 13

Happy Birthday Jez Alborough - Born November 13, 1959

Where do authors get their ideas?  Some ideas are so powerful that they develop quickly while others sit tucked away for many years until they are thankfully revisited once again.  Some ideas never work out while others are molded carefully into something far better.  Jez Alborough, author and illustrator of over 40 books,  said that writing picture books for him is a "process that is totally organic."  A book may start "when I draw a picture and write what the character is saying underneath.  Or I have a great line and I have to start drawing to find the right character to say it." He finished his description when he said, "it is a process of expanding outwards - seeing where the story wants to go."

I have come to be fascinated with the origins of stories; some I enjoy as much as the book. Jez Alborough's website is full of stories behind the story; just look for the "Jez Says" link under his books in print section of his website.  One fascinating story is how young chimpanzee, Bobo, in the book Hug was initially a bird hugging a large elephant. Also, Alborough's latest books The Gobble Gobble Moooooo: Tractor Book came from a sketch he made over 15 years ago in his "ideas book" and Look Out, Leon! came from just playing with scissors and paper.  There is also a video embedded below where Jez Alborough discusses the creative process behind his Duck Series:

This week we were at the craft store, my daughter's favorite place.  We were there for only glue dots, but needed to walk up and down the aisles to look at all the paint and scrapbooking supplies.  Very rarely will my daughter ask to buy something at a store; I consider myself very lucky.  However, she stumbled upon the drawing paper pads and got super excited.  She found one that was just her size and she asked if she could have it.  I thought it was a great idea because she will often draw me pictures and then they get misplaced or thrown away.  She thought it would be a good idea to keep all her drawings in this book.  I told her it reminded me of what Jez Alborough calls his "ideas book".  She started off with a drawing of fruit - a strawberry, banana, and a blueberry.

In closing, I emailed Jez Alborough to let him know that we would be celebrating his birthday. I asked him if he would share a birthday tradition or memory. This was his response:

My perfect birthday ingredients might be;
       Breakfast in bed,
A lovely walk in nature,
A favourite dish (perhaps mushroom risotto)
A great film.

Thank you Jez for sharing and we hope you have a wonderful birthday!

Thank you for all the entries to win the iPhone Apps.  Here are the winners and their responses:

1. Paula said, "I'm thankful that the world needs children's librarians, so I know in one way it is selfish but I get to keep my job.  But I am thankful in a way that though a friend lost his job, it proved to have an array of blessings follow him."  - Winner of The Duck in the Truck App

2. Danielle said, "So many things...Healthy and (generally) happy children.  A supportive husband who has a wonderful job.  My family.  Life. Books, music, and the freedom to enjoy the things I love."  - Winner of the Captain Duck App

3. LLong said, "I am thankful for my kids, they are smart, healthy, and funny.  They are my life."  Winner of the Fix-It Duck App

4. Anne said, "I am thankful for my husband and son and daughter and their spouses and my beautiful grandchildren! I am thankful for good health and the opportunity to help people through my job as a nurse."  Winner of the The Duck in the Truck App


1. The Jez Alborough Website
2. How Jez Alborough Creates a Book - YouTube via HarperCollins
3. iPhone Apps - Duck in the Truck, Captain Duck, Fix it Duck
4. Follow Jez Alborough on Facebook
5. Jez talks about writing and illustrating - The Write Stuff


  1. Love this post! You are such a great dad, really! Think about how treasured that notebook (and the many that will come after it, I'm sure) will be in the years to come. Even if she doesn't become a great "artist", she'll still have those memories tucked away. How cool!

    Also, I'm right with you. Some of my greatest enjoyment while blogging has come from the "behind the scenes" info I gather from the authors & illustrators. It's so interesting to hear where it all came from. Great post!

  2. Your blog is great. I've added this blog to my blog list on Beginning Reading Help. I look forward to learning about some of my favorite authors from you. I'm sure some of my readers will love your blog too!

  3. Hi there! I am your newest follower from the blog hop. I am now following you GFC and TWitter:) You can find me at

  4. This is such a great idea! Thanks for finding me. I'm your newest follower.

  5. HAPPY Birthday to him. We love the book "Tall", bobo is so cute.

    Thank you for stopping by my blog. I am following back.
    I hope you'll be able to come back and check out some awesome giveaways-

  6. I love "Hit the ball duck"! Have read it with my elementary school students for rhyming, basic concepts, story grammar-they love it, too. Thanks for the informative video-always wondered how children's authors got their books off the ground.
    Stopping by from the blog hop at Cooperating4boys. blessings on your day!


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