Emma Chichester Clark is the illustrator of the beautiful middle-grade chapter book, Toto: The Dog-Gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz. Its 250+ full-color images showcase Chichester Clark’s signature style.
CHRISTINE VAN ZANDT: Welcome to Kite Tales! In Toto, you collaborate once again with author, Michael Morpurgo. How does illustrating well-known stories differ from working on new fiction? Does having a dog as the narrator change your focus when you work on the art?
EMMA CHICHESTER CLARK: In fact, it’s my sixth collaboration with Michael. We have also done versions of Pinocchio, Aesop’s Fables, Hansel and Gretel, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, and a Christmas story called The Best of Times. Almost all of them were about well-known characters and I had to find my own ideas about that. This is a challenge because the images we all already know so well are imprinted in our heads. With each character, I have to draw and redraw them, over and over again, until I find someone that belongs to me but who is, at the same time, true to the character I’m representing. [In Toto], having a dog as the narrator was the most fun of all because I adore dogs. I have one, Plum, who is not unlike Toto in appearance and I spend a lot of my time trying to interpret what is going on in her doggy brain.
CVZ: You are also an author. Please give us some insight into your process, both as an illustrator and an author-illustrator.