"It's an Orange Aardvark!" is the new book from Michael Hall. It's a short book, so we don't want to give anything away. But we can tell you it involves carpenter ants, a lot of holes and a hilarious payoff. Kirkus Reviews calls the book “suspenseful and entertaining; all-around great fun.”
The Texas Standard spoke to Hall on the phone, on a lunch break between school visits. "I enjoy the school appearances," Hall said. "The kids are so attentive and curious. They're just great audiences and it's a lot of fun."
Writing books is Hall's second career. He worked for 30 years as a graphic designer. "But I always loved picture books and wanted to write one," he said. When his design projects started looking like picture books, "I knew it was time to just jump in and try it."
Hall started off writing for his own children. "My first book I wrote for my youngest daughter. It was based on bedtime stories I was telling her. It took me a year to put together and when it was done, I hated it and didn't want anyone to see it."
How times have changed. "Orange Aardvark" is Hall's fourth book and it's raking in rave reviews.
Another of his books, "Perfect Square," was acclaimed for its story of transformation. The book was written for his oldest daughter. "I didn't realize at the time, but it had to do with the fact that she had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and for me it was about her grappling with her diagnosis."
At first glance, Hall's brightly colored books seem reminiscent of those by Eric Carle, the prolific author whose work is a staple at preschools. "I have heard that comparison," Hall laughed, "but when it comes to inspirations, Shel Silverstein is the biggest. And Ed Young. He wrote the picture book, "Seven Blind Mice." I got to meet him at a conference recently and it was really fun."
Michael Hall's already working on his next book. A hint? "It's all done with crayons," he said.
Hall will appear at Austin's BookPeople on Saturday, May 3 at 11:30 am.