Monday, April 30, 2012

Words From the Wise #11- Frank Asch

Today we meet award winning author/illustrator Frank Asch.  His first picture book, George's Stone, was published in 1968.  Since that time, Frank has published books in almost every category of children's literature. Personally, I discovered Mr. Asch through reading books in his Moonbeam Bear series.  Sand Cake is one of my favorites!  To say that his complete list of published books is impressive, is an understatement.

Heres's a fun fact:  In l989, Mr. Asch and Vladimir Vagin of the U.S.S.R. published Here Comes the Cat , which was the first Soviet/American collaboration on a children's book. Here Comes the Cat has received wide recognition in the U.S. and was awarded the Russian National Book Award.

I introduce to you, Mr. Frank Asch. . . .

 Please describe some of the pros and cons of being an author and an illustrator.

The best thing about being an author and an illustrator is that you get to match the words and the pictures so the book works as a whole.  Like a well written song.  So many times I think the illustrator misses the essence of a story.  That's why I love James Thurber's work.  Even though he was half blind and couldn't "draw" he always captured the whimsy of his writing. 

Trends in children's reading have changed since you began writing.  How you have adapted to those changes?

I haven't paid much attention to trends.  For example there was a trend for photo realism for a while for.  But I'm not that kind of illustrator so I just let it pass me by. 

How did you get your start as an author/illustrator, and how have you maintained your success?

I was influenced by Where The Wild Things Are.  I wanted to be a fine artist.  And I thought that book was fine art.  So it opened a door for me.  As for continued success I just kept writing.  There are other media that I like.  But the idea that books are read by parents to kids at night before they go to sleep really inspired me and continues to inspire me today. 

What are some strategies for developing a strong character that children will relate to?

The best strategy is to write from your heart.  If you don't have a childlike heart, forget it.  You're better off doing
something else.  But if you love fantasy.  If you love irony.  If you love surprises  etc.  Just write what you think will be fun to read.  That goes for character, plot, everything.  

Besides writing and illustrating books, Mr. Asch enjoys working with children and adults and is currently creating community centered programs consisting of several Ten Minute Plays that are written by community members and performed (read) in his renovated barn/studio.

Mr. Asch’s work has received international acclaim, having been translated into many European languages as well as Japanese, Chinese, and Russian. His poetry has been reprinted in recent anthologies, and his stories have been selected by major book clubs, adapted for various basal reading series, filmstrips, animated films, videos, and periodicals. His books have been featured on television here in the U.S.A., in Germany, Australia, England, and the Soviet Union. 


  1. Great interview, Sandi! And to Mr. Asch -- I thought Moonbear's Dream was my favorite book of yours until I read Ziggy Piggy and the Three Little Pigs. That one was brilliant! I can't wait to explore more of your books.

  2. Thank you Carrie! I love Moonbear's Dream too! Haven't read Ziggy Piggy yet. I will have to check it out.

  3. Thanks Sandi - I love Frank Asch's work! Glad to hear his thoughts, esp. on letting trends pass him by and writing from his heart. Inspiring for all, but nice to hear when you also illustrate.

    1. I am so glad that you enjoyed this interview. We all need to remember what he says. . . write from the heart.

  4. This was such a fun interview kids loved, loved Moonbear as children. We read them over and over. So good to read about the man behind the bear!