‘Kids drawn to books where they are in charge’: Dav Pilkey

New Delhi, Nov 22 (IANSlife) Top American cartoonist, Dav Pilkey, is an author and illustrator of children’s literature. He believes that young readers like to immerse themselves in books where they (the kids) are in charge; it’s also the best way to weave positive values that they will cherish for a lifetime.

The writer and illustrator have won millions of hearts across the world with his endearing characters and entertaining books like the ‘Dog Man’ series, the ‘Captain Underpants’ series, the ‘Dragon’ series, ‘The Paperboy’ and many more. ‘The Dog Man’ series has more than 26 million copies in print to date.

Pilkey was recently in India for a Scholastic India event, where he interacted with around 1600 kids and teachers.

IANSlife caught up with the bestselling and Caldecott Honor-winning author. Read excerpts:

Your comic series sees an astounding resonance with the audience. What goes into creating a memorable comic series?

Pilkey: I designed the ‘Captain Underpants’ books so they would appeal to all kids, but especially to kids who learn differently. I think it’s important for children to have a positive experience with books as early as possible. That’s why my books have short chapters and funny pictures. The comic and action scenes made using animation take up at least 25 percent of each book. Children who find reading frustrating can breeze through them. They also love the pranks, the comics and the mild naughtiness in the books.

Why are comics such am an easy and quick way to connect with children?

Pilkey: Children are more attracted to pictures than text so it is natural for them to be drawn to comics. And if the pictures are interesting they will be hooked for more, ultimately increasing the love for reading. Comics with text and images develop context easily and make for easy reading.

Do you think with increasing screen time, the interest children had in books is waning? Does digitizing also help in some way?

Pilkey: Children imitate adults, pick up a book and he/she will follow. Increasing screen time can be checked if the child connects to better hobbies. Books, art, and outdoor activities go a long way in keeping them away from screens. Digitization is going to help with new platforms and new readers.

How do you subtly weave in positive values for children in your books?

Pilkey: At the core of all these books, is a message about children trying to improve and become a better version of themselves. I do it in a way kids like to read. They respond deeply to empowerment fantasy.

Kids, typically don’t have a whole lot of power, they cannot vote or drive and they are supervised by grown-ups most of the time. They like to immerse themselves in books where kids are in charge. And when they do, I try to take them through positive experiences.

It’s your first time in India. Do you follow any Indian comic series?

Pilkey: I am still familiarizing myself with the nuances of India. There is so much to explore and so many incredible people doing good work — educators and volunteers. I’m yet to follow an Indian comic strip.

Tell us about your upcoming work.

Pilkey: Right now it’s ‘For Whom The Ball Rolls ‘ the latest Dogman number where the hero finds himself to be a target of an entirely new super-villain. Next would be ‘Fetch 22’, another rib-tickling adventure of our Superhero.

Pilkey has been vocal about his difficulties in school when he was often banished to the hallways. This was the time when, with firm support from his parents, he began to draw and create comics. He shared his journey and his struggles with ADHD and dyslexia while interacting with the kids.

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