Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Sort-of Guest Post: The Boy Interviews Illustrator Loren Long

Loren Long
By the end of the school year, my son was pretty much over Kindergarten.

"What happened at school today?" I would ask as he'd saunter in from the bus.

"Nothing," he'd say. "Just like every day. School is always the same"

But on one particular day in May, Murray ran in from the bus, very excited.

"Loren Long was at school today. He taught us what art is!"

Before he met him in person, the boy was well acquainted with Loren's work--we have a stack of his picture books--OTIS, THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD, TOY BOAT, Golden Kite winner I DREAM OF TRAINS--and they are favorites in our house. And not too long ago, the Long family moved to my neighborhood (yay!), so it was convenient for the busy illustrator/author to spend some time at Madeira Elementary.

After Murray told me all about what he learned from his school's visitor, I asked if he'd be interested in interviewing Loren for my blog and he was enthusiastically game--as was his interviewee. Their conversation is below.

To learn more about Loren Long and his exquisite work, visit his website,

How old were you when you first started drawing? What was your favorite thing to draw? And how did you not need help when you were drawing on your own?

Legend has it that I started drawing when I was about four. That is to say drawing with the purpose of making a drawing look like something. My first favorite thing to draw was Snoopy. I suppose I would have needed help if the result mattered but as a little boy it was only for fun.

What is your favorite book you drew? Why do you like it the best?

It is hard to name my favorite book that I've done. They all mean a lot to me. I really like Otis because he is so much fun to draw and he is such a good friend.

The boy reads OTIS.

My favorite book is OTIS and my favorite character is Otis and it's a very nice story. Do you have a favorite character in your books?

Thank you! Otis is one of my favorite characters to be sure and I'm awfully fond of THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD as well. The Little Blue Engine is such a strong-minded, determined little train. I still think of her when the going gets tough.

I usually use crayons. What type of drawing supplies do you use to draw your books?

For art supplies I start with pencil and then do my final art usually with acrylic paints.

I like to draw ancient things like Egyptian stuff. How do you get to do drawing as a job?

I drew a lot for fun as a kid. When I grew up and decided that I wanted to be an artist for a job I got a little more serious and practiced more and more and tried to get better and better. I went to college and then to art school to help me get a job as an artist.

When you were at my school, you said you illustrated a book for Barack Obama and you went to the White House and your sons wore ties. Can you tell me more about that?

Doing the art for OF THEE I SING was an honor and something I'll always be proud of. President Obama invited my two sons and me to visit him at The White House. President Obama was friendly to me and my boys. He asked them questions and told us how proud he is of our book which was written in the form of as a letter to his daughters. We met the President in the Oval Office and it was an experience I'll never forget!

Tell everyone that the new OTIS AND THE TORNADO book is out soon.

My newest book, OTIS AND THE TORNADO, is out soon--this September 6th, 2011.

Thank you for coming to my school, showing us how to draw Otis, and answering my questions.

Thank you Murray. I enjoyed visiting your school, Madeira Elementary. What a great school! And thanks for the questions!


Phyllis Harris said...

Wow, Alice! What a fun interview and one that I'm sure your son will never forget! :)

Heather said...

This was so great! I enjoyed it! - whata great opportunity for your son. thanks for sharing.

Tanya said...

Wonderful! What a treat to read. Thanks to you, Murray and Loren Long! Glad to know there's another OTIS book on the way!

Stephsco said...

How adorable was this?! I love the idea of a young fan interviewing an artist. Plus, I love the idea of new artwork for The Little Engine that Could!