Mark Teague believes children’s picture books are the perfect antidote for screen addicted kids.
Teague is the author of more than 40 books and says his work is all about making children more open to the possibilities of reading.
“I want to make books so appealing that kids are drawn to them when they’re very young,” Teague said. Teague’s journey to successful author and illustrator is one of “right place, right time.” After graduating from UC Santa Cruz, he started traveling. He was living in New York City in the late 1980s when he began working for Barnes & Noble. Although he had no formal art training, he showed his supervisors his travel sketchbook. On the spot, they hired him to create signs.
“I used that as my art training, and as my entrée into the world of books,” said Teague.
Teague became friends with the children’s buyer at the company, who introduced him to the head of Scholastic, the American publishing and media company, famous for educational books for children.
“I just walked into her office,” Teague recalled. “I had started writing and illustrating a children’s book. I didn’t have any idea how hard it was to get published.”
In this case, his naiveté paid off. Scholastic bought his first book, The Trouble with the Johnsons, in 1989, launching his career with this surreal story of dinosaurs moving into a household. He was named one of 11 prominent new authors by Publishers Weekly.
Teague is currently working on a few popular series books, including the dinosaur series, and is revisiting one of his old standbys—the Poppletons.
“I’m going back to characters I haven’t seen in a bit,” he said.
Although the publishing world continues to change, Teague says he’s mostly insulated from it. These days, he works from a quiet spot in the Hudson River Valley.
“I’m just up in the woods,” he said, “doing my pictures and books.”