Author Interview: Hervé Tullet

December 19, 2011

The best children’s books are the ones that parents love to read to their kids, don’t you think? No matter what time of day or how many chores seem to be in the way, there are a few books that beg you to take a break and put an instant smile on your face. Those are exactly the kind of books that Hervé Tullet makes. Just watch:

Q: How would you describe your childhood?

A: I grew up in Paris. My childhood was boring, and I was a bit afraid of the world around me. My parents were from Normandy, and they didn’t explore the city so much; we lived quite exclusively in our neighborhood just like they had in their small village in Normandy. So I started exploring on my own, step by step, the city of Paris.

Q: When did you understand that you were meant to be a writer and an artist? And when did the world first learn it, too?

A: Maybe at school. Around age 16, I discovered books and what they were made of: rebellion, ideas, politics, artistic drives…Surrealism, Jean Paul Sartre, poetry…

I began to draw at this time, without any purpose, and I didn’t know that I was expressing myself. Then I attended an art school and began to work in advertising as an art director. I had a baby and I decided to run as an illustrator. I quickly discovered how fun it was to create and invent books. That was over 20 years ago! Sixty books later and counting…

Q: Where do you work best?

A: I’m always thinking and finding new ideas, so I can work everywhere; I just need a pen and a notebook.

Q: Your text is always so casual and friendly! How many languages do you speak?

A: I try to speak English, but I’m still learning. With my books, I can “talk” everywhere, from Korea to Italy and Russia. There have been times when I’ve spoken directly to children in other countries without any help from a translator. Amazing, I tell you!

Q: I’ve seen adults play along with Press Here with pure joy, and The Coloring Book easily draws in such a wide range of ages. How do you make your art so identifiable and fun to both young and old? It is such a trick!

A: Books need to be shared by everyone. All ages. There is not a specific world for just children, with lovely little stuff filling it, so the best book idea for me is the one where everyone can play together.

I have many ideas at the same time, but sometimes one blooms and I just know that this is the one I must focus on because of its simplicity. Because I found the right stuff for both a child and an adult to enjoy.

Q: The first artist who inspired you…

A: Calder. And Miro.

Q: The first book that broke your heart or moved you in some way…

A: Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni.

Q: A perfect day includes…

A: A new idea, discovering a new musician, and starting to read a so-good book!

Q: What’s next for you?

A: New books, some great sessions are coming soon with schools, and a lot of travel.

Thank you so much, Hervé! We’ll have to meet in Normandy sometime soon, perhaps at Mont Saint-Michel. Friends, aren’t you loving hearing about these wildly creative authors who came from fairly ordinary and quiet childhoods? I think I’ve always assumed they bloomed in imagination gardens, haven’t you?

P.S. If you want to be charmed even more, here’s Mr. Tullet discussing Doodle Cook. Have you ever made a scribble sandwich or a thousand-layer cake? Now’s your chance. And don’t you just love his accent?

Author image via Phaidon.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jessica December 19, 2011 at 7:09 am

Love Herve Tullet! My son received Press Here as a gift and he loved it! I ordered a bunch for the holidays and we are giving them to all the children we love this year !

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2 TN December 19, 2011 at 7:52 am

WOW! That Press Here book is awesome! We are in the midst of teaching our son colors/shapes etc. This is perfect! And it is super cute.

We are going to the US in a few weeks and this book is def making our list of things to bring back ;-)

TN
http://www.etsy.com/shop/ParisHandmadebyTN

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3 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag December 19, 2011 at 8:35 am

Herve Tullet is SOOOOO RAD!

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4 hyzen December 19, 2011 at 9:09 am

Wonderful! I just got Press Here for my daughter for Christmas, and I’m so excited for her to open it because I already know how much she’ll love it. Thank you, Mr. Tullet, and thanks for doing this lovely interview, Gabi!

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5 Katherine December 19, 2011 at 9:44 am

So fun to open your blog today and see this interview with Mr. Tullet! Press Here will be under our Christmas tree for our youngest son. I’m so excited!

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6 Stephanie December 19, 2011 at 10:58 am

I didn’t know of Mr. Tullet until reading your blog…but now I just must go out to the bookstore! Thanks for sharing your interview!

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7 Pamela G December 19, 2011 at 11:32 am

We are huge Herve Tullet here. We have the ‘Book with a Hole’ and it is hilarious. Each page starts a new story for us to make up with our kids. Can’t believe you got to meet each other! So amazing!

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8 Giselle December 19, 2011 at 2:48 pm

We bought the scribble book at a museum gift shop in Spain. My daughter loved it! It’s so simple and creative. Amazing!

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9 Mariah December 19, 2011 at 2:51 pm

I am a HUGE fan of Hervé Tullet and have sold many of his books in the shop. He also has some lovely interactive board books for the youngest of readers. Thanks for the wonderful interview :-)

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_3_12?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=herve+tullet+board+books&sprefix=herve+tullet#/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=herve+tullet%2C+game+of&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Aherve+tullet\c+game+of

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10 The Happy Mother December 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm

I think we learned about Herve Tullet on this blog a few years ago? You inspired me to buy Pink Lemon for my daughter and it is still a family favorite!

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11 se7en December 19, 2011 at 6:02 pm

So nice to meet a new to us author – This is just an awesome interview… full of fun!!! What a great video – amazing book. The sort of books that are just totally fun to share!!! Love it!!!

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12 Maria Ortiz-Cintron December 20, 2011 at 11:48 am

Thank you for this post. I loved it. It is always so nice to learn from others. I must admit I’d never heard of Mr. Tullet, but, I’m quite happy to have learned about him. I look forward to checking his books out.

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13 Ann December 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm

We love the Press Here book and can’t wait to check out Doodle Cook (looks like a great xmas gift)! Thanks for sharing this wonderful interview with Hervé Tullet, such an inspiration – I love his appeal to children AND adults, too often it’s one OR the other : )

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14 rubi December 21, 2011 at 1:42 am

I just bought his Doodle Cook book for my nephews the other day and fell in love with his Press Here book a while back too, I didn’t realize he wrote them both. Reading that Calder and Miro were some of the first artists who inspired him make me love his work even more. :)

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15 CeeBee December 21, 2011 at 5:08 am

Press Here just caught my eye at B&N thanks to this post! I just bought it and we are loving it. I love knowing the author’s story – creates an even deeper bond with a book. Thank you for this series!

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16 Jenny January 4, 2012 at 10:21 am

What a great post! We love Herve Tullet! We picked up Doodle Cook on clearance at Anthropologie a few weeks ago! I’m keeping it put away for our next road trip. Press Here is such a fun book. We’ve read it several times to our boys. They love it. It’s also a great gift book. I’m really wanting his Game of Light book for our boys. It’s a made for flashlights to shine through it. I can imagine the fun kids will have with this book. Take it camping. Give it as a gift with a flashlight included! :)

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17 Caddy January 19, 2012 at 11:35 pm

I’m really enjoying this series of post. I love how thoughtful the answers are, very inspiring. Little Blue and Little Yellow is a beautiful book! My mother once borrow it from a friend to read at home and my little sister fell in love with the book and didn’t want to give it back. We eventually got our own copy. :)

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