Author/illustrator, Jarrett J. Krosoczka , is a talented young fella with five bios! I kid you not. Some say he's an international super spy. Others say he's found sitcom fame. My kids & I love his books, especially Punk Farm.
Who is Jarrett & what is he up to? He was kind enough to spare a momment from his untiring schedule to give the following interview:
1) Are you a Farmer or a Punk? Or are you a Punk Farmer?
Hmmm. Well I've always been a fan of punk music and the attitude behind it, but I wouldn't really consider myself fully punk. I've lived in a city all of my life, so I've never been a farmer. But that's sort of changing as my soon-to-be wife and I are moving to Northampton, MA. Now I drive by a farm with cows and horses, but by the time I get to downtown I see parents with mohawks and kids with individual style hanging around. So I guess now I officially live in a town that is farm/punkish.
2) Did you always want to be an author/illustrator of children's books? How did that happen?
In a sense I did. I always wanted to tell stories with pictures. When I was a kid, I made my own little books and made my own comics. By the time I got to high school, I was all about comics and animation. I took classes at the Worcester Art Museum and there, we published our own underground comics and animated little shorts on 8 MM cameras. By the time I got to college and especially by my sophomore year, my attention focused on making picture books. Which in the end, really isn't too different from anything I had done all of my life - telling the story visually.
3) What was the inspiration for Punk Farm?
I had been trying to crack a story I had going for a few years. It started out about a kid who grew up to be a rock star, then it was a kid who daydreamed on being a rock star... But I was never satisfied where the story was going. Then, I had been volunteering at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and my campers pretended to be rock stars when I played music at the start of the day. Eventually, they took on the personas of rock stars for the duration of the session, living out their daily lives as a famous rock band. I returned home to realize that this story I had going on kept falling short because it was about one kid and a group would offer far more entertaining possibilities. Shortly after that, I was leafing through old sketches and paintings and came across another unrealized story - one about a pig and a chicken. And then it all happened. I had an "A-HA!" moment and my rock star book became a book about a band, not an individual and farm animals, not humans.
4) Is there a "Punk Farm" song on a CD or available on iTunes?
There is a song and it is available as a free download from punkfarm.com.
5) My 5 y.o. son enjoyed My Buddy, Slug. He's a fan of bugs & critters. I love the messages of tolerance, friendship, making amends & forgiveness. Is there a story behind this story?
Not specifically. When I wrote the book, I didn't have any one personal situation in mind. I knew that I had been in plenty of situations where I was Slug and plenty where I was Alex. But when I look back at my childhood and my life, the acts of forgiveness and making amends have both played major roles. I was raised by my grandparents and for many years I held animosity towards my mother, which I was eventually able to move past. She has always been a big part of my life and when I was a kid, she always encouraged me to draw. She's an incredibly gifted artist and as a kid, I always looked up to her for that. Slug was always one of my mother's favorite books and even after the early rejections in my literary career, she constantly encouraged me to get the book published.
6) What's your favorite color? I guess ...orange.
My favorite color is red. But I do love the combination of dark green and orange...
7) How can folks meet you?
Well, I'm out on the road a lot, reading and signing at book festivals and book store events. The best way to keep tabs would be to check in to my events page - www.studiojjk.com/events.html.
8) Is there another book or new project in the works?
Punk Farm on Tour will be out on October 9, 2007. The band packs up a van and travels the country. I finished the art for that book last November (Yes, it takes that long for a picture book to be released!) and I'm really proud of this book. I really pushed myself here. After that, I am currently working on a bunch of new books, but next to be published will be Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute. It will be the first graphic novel in a series about a lunch lady who fights crime, knows karate, and uses her unassuming lunch lady tools as spy equipment.
We're looking forward to Punk Farm on Tour.
Check out Jarrett's books, sketches, games, etc. at: http://studiojjk.com/