Saturday, May 8, 2021

Middle Grade Ninja Episode 115: Author David LaRochelle and Illustrator Mike Wohnoutka

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David LaRochelle and Mike Wohnoutka join me to discuss their collaboration from its start to how it remains successful, and their newest picture book, SEE THE CAT. We discuss the very different paths they took to publication, the difference in a writer’s workday versus an illustrator’s workday, the difference winning an award makes, school visits, professional pumpkin carving, a contest-winning supermarket run, and so much more.







David LaRochelle has been creating books for young people for over twenty-five years. His many picture book titles include The Best Pet of AllHow Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans, and Moo!

He is the recipient of the Sid Fleischman Humor Award, multiple children’s choice awards, and a three-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award.

A former elementary school teacher, David still visits many classrooms around the Midwest (and world!) each year, talking with students about books, writing, and illustrating. When he is not creating new books, he loves to read, play board games, and carve unique jack-o’-lanterns, which you can view at his website davidlarochelle.com.



Ever since Mike can remember he knew he wanted to be an artist. His dad, who worked at the Highway Department, would bring home reams of paper that had highway plans on one side and were blank on the other. He would be so excited to have all that paper to draw on and would fill each sheet with snowmobiles, baseball players, superheroes—everything he was interested in. His high school art teacher, Mr. Chase encouraged Mike to pursue art as a career. This, along with a scholarship, led him to the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia. Since graduating with a B.F.A. in Illustration, Mike has illustrated over 30 books for children. He has worked with various clients including Bloomsbury Publishing, Candlewick Press, Henry Holt, Clarion Books, Disney-Hyperion Books, Holiday House, Scholastic Books, Penguin-Random House, Cricket Magazine Group, General Mills, 3M, Medtronic, and Peaceable Kingdom Press.

A native of Spicer, Minnesota, Mike currently lives with his family in Minneapolis.




Winner of the 2021 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award

Move over, Spot. . . . Spoofing classic primers, Max the Dog talks back to the book in a twist that will have fans of funny early readers howling.


See Max. Max is not a cat—Max is a dog. But much to Max’s dismay, the book keeps instructing readers to “see the cat.” How can Max get through to the book that he is a DOG? In a trio of stories for beginning readers, author David LaRochelle introduces the excitable Max, who lets the book know in irresistibly emphatic dialogue that the text is not to his liking. Illustrator Mike Wohnoutka hilariously depicts the pup’s reactions to the narrator and to the wacky cast of characters who upend Max’s—and readers’—expectations as the three stories build to an immensely satisfying conclusion. Hooray, Max, hooray!








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