Author interview: Judith Klausner (Noah the Narwhal)

Noah the NarwhalWelcome to my first author interview! I usually do character interviews with authors, but I felt like that type of interview wouldn’t do the children’s book Noah the Narwhal justice.

All illustrations in this post have been created by Sarah Gould.

This book is truly one of my favourite children’s books of last year. The illustrations are adorable and the writing style is to-the-point and descriptive. You can read my full review here.

Noah in bed1. Why did you choose narwhals as characters?

I was really drawn to the idea of this creature with a horn that could be inverted to evoke the feeling of a migraine. And, much like narwhals themselves, all too many people think migraines aren’t a real thing!

2. I loved the illustration where Noah is tusk-brushing his tusk with a toothbrush! What was your favourite illustration in the book?

It’s hard to pick (I love Sarah’s ability to invoke so much feeling with such simple lines!) but I think my favorite is Norbert’s family dinner. I love all of the little details in that scene, and most of them were surprises to me. It was a page where I had given really bare-bones illustration notes, and Sarah just ran with it. She texted me in the middle of working on it saying, “do you think Norbert and Nancy have a baby? Because I just drew a baby narwhal in a coral highchair…” And that’s how Norbert became a dad!

3. How did you and Sarah Gould (the illustrator) decide which illustrations to use?

Nina gives Noah a hugIt was a wonderfully active collaboration. I put in initial notes (which ranged from very specific visions I had in my head for certain scenes, to “something involving these two characters”.) From there, Sarah would send me her initial sketched ideas/interpretations and we’d talk about them, and she’d tweak or fill things out, and send them over again. It was back-and-forth all the way through, always working together. It was amazing how she took these very skeletal scribbled notes and fleshed them out into exactly the characters I hoped to have.

4. What do you think children will like about the story?

I think it’s hard not to like narwhals; they’re the unicorns of the sea! (I like to say that unicorns are the narwhals of the land, but I’m still waiting for that to catch on 😉 ). I hope kids will also connect with the underlying themes of unconditional friendship and love. Everybody deserves to have that in their lives!

5. What do you want children to understand through the story?

Nikki gives Noah a cupcake

I guess there are two sides to what I hope my readers take away from the book. One is a validation of their own experiences, whether that’s from their own disability or just up and down days. We all need understanding and kindness, and to know that people will be there for us. The other is to help grow the reader’s sense of empathy and thoughtfulness. We are each a part of many communities, and those communities each include many people who deal with invisible disabilities. Having the tools to recognize, understand and love makes an enormous difference to individual lives and group cultures.

6. What are some of your favourite lines from the book?

Well, “Today is not yesterday” has become something of a mantra for me! When my own pain acts up badly and I have to miss out on things or I feel like I’m letting people down, it’s helpful to remind myself. It’s important that we treat ourselves with kindness, and asses each day as it comes.

Judith KlausnerAuthor profile

Judith Klausner is a migrainey land mammal from Somerville, Massachusetts. She channels her experience of invisible disability (and everything else) into her creative endeavors. She often makes art using unusual materials from her surroundings, and plays with her food both recreationally and professionally. When not creating works of art, she likes to throw fancy dress tea parties. Seeing a lack of characters like herself in picture books, Judith set to work contributing to filling this void, and she hopes that Noah will help other disabled folks of all ages feel less isolated.

I loved the story! If you’d like to read the book, check it out on Goodreads. Read my review to find out what I thought about this wonderful book.

Happy Noah


8 thoughts on “Author interview: Judith Klausner (Noah the Narwhal)

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