Today we are going behind the scenes with author and illustrator Cara Kansala. She has produced a gorgeous picture book, The Moon King. It is colourful and vibrant, perfect for bedtime reading.
Tell us about your books?
The Moon King is a playful goat – the guardian of the Moon and night sky. One evening, he is dancing and trips over the night and it spills all the way down to earth, flooding the land with stars. Quietly, he must wake the sleepy animals and ask for their help, to bring the stars back up to the sky.
Why did you want to write this story?
I have always been a fan of lullabies, bedtime stories and cuddly things that help us go to sleep. I had a terrible time at bedtime as a child, and to comfort myself and ward off the scary things that nighttime brought, I’d pile my bed high with stuffed animals and tell them stories. This is the sort of story I imagine I would have made up back then – to quiet my stuffed friends and myself for the night. It is a soft, gentle story and just what I wanted it to be for the time of day when we can believe in dancing goats and falling stars.
What’s been the best reaction from a reader so far?
There is a page in the book with dozens of birds carrying the stars back up to the night, and someone’s child said they wanted to make a wish on every star. I thought that was lovely.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I love animals and have always had many cats and dogs and also goats. My goats even had their own cats, so there was a lot of inspiration there. Watching how animals interact with each other, form relationships and even friendships with each other is amazing. Also, I live in a magical place – a tiny house by the sea in a colourful community that changes every day. One morning we’ll see whales, the next seals and then in spring the icebergs arrive. The clouds move quickly and it seems like everything is always dancing.
What’s the most fun part of being an author?
It’s pretty amazing the first time you see your words and illustrations in book form. The first time holding a new book in your hands is fantastic and surreal. All of the little drawings you did and thoughts and ideas you muddled through to get to the final stage are all done up neat and tidy. It is just so much fun. I also enjoy reading, especially my poems. Often, I get children to read along or call out different sounds and noises and there is always lots of giggling and laughter.
What’s your tip for parents to encourage reading?
I think lots of times parents feel stressed to get through an entire book at bedtime or feel a little bit bored if their child wants to read the same story over and over and over. I think it is fun to sometimes just focus on one or two pages. What if the character made a different decision? What would happen next? Ask your child what they would do in the same situation and why.
You can just focus on the illustrations. Or count things on the page or talk about other ways the story be illustrated.
Also, you can talk about the writing of the book and wonder why the author chose the character’s name or why the illustrator chose to paint the sky red instead of blue. I think every picture book is full of all kinds of stories. Things to wonder about, alternate endings to make up and all kinds of ways to play with language.
What’s your favourite children’s book of all time and why?
Definitely ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein. It is a beautiful, quirky book of poetry that fills your mouth with twists and turns and is so much fun to read.
Cara Kansala is a full-time visual artist and children’s book author and illustrator. Known throughout Atlantic Canada for her whimsical style, she spends her time between a tiny house by the sea in Upper Island Cove and in St. John’s.
She lives there with her partner Ailsa, two children, two cats, a “hufflepig” called Gretel, and three minnows named One, Two, and Three.
You can find out more about Cara by following her on Facebook. You can find her book here.