Last year, we were very fortunate to have been able to attend a workshop at the Singapore Writer’s Festival led by one of our favourite authors, Chris Haughton.
J and Little E were ecstatic when I told them that we were going to meet the author of one of their favourite books A Bit Lost – a charming story of a sleepy little owl looking for it’s mummy with some help from a friendly but confused squirrel.
We got to the workshop early so I had some time to browse some of Chris Haughton’s other award-winning books at the pop-up bookstore run by Closetful of Books.
Oh No, George! is a funny story about a well-meaning but unfortunate dog who is always getting into scrapes. I love the colours in this one, and I think kids can really relate to George’s many difficulties.
Shh! We Have a Plan is about a group of unsuccessful hunters who keep running into all sorts of trouble whilst attempting to capture a brightly coloured bird. This one is particularly good for reading aloud, and the kids find it absolutely hilarious.
When Chris Haughton arrived, he was utterly captivating from the start, managing to hold both J and Little E’s attention for nearly a whole hour. He talked about the different ways in which he planned and created each book, and the inspiration behind some of his character designs. It was enlightening, listening to him talk about his creative process and watching him engage with the children.
Mr Haughton showed us some pictures that he drew when he was a very young boy. He told us how he loved drawing and would draw all the time, everywhere. This was something that resonated with J especially, who owns a small sketchbook that he takes around with him.
Towards the end of the workshop, Chris Haughton demonstrated how he would use a single picture to tell a complete story. He got children in the audience to shout out ideas for a ridiculous and unlikely method of capturing squirrels, finally settling on the most outlandish idea of all (which you can see in the picture below).
The kids and I stayed until the very end of the workshop, and Mr Haughton was kind enough to autograph our books. He even gave J the picture that he drew during the session! J was so thrilled.
Chris Haughton, is first and foremost, an artist. It just so happens that his work as an artist includes creating children’s books using different mediums.
One of his other works is an app for children called ‘Hat Monkey‘. The app is an interactive story about a little Monkey who needs a lot of help, and kids can feed, sing, dance with and even talk to the little Monkey. Isn’t that cool?
Chris Haughton’s awesomeness doesn’t end there, by the way.
Before Mr Haughton started publishing children’s books, he worked as a volunteer designer for fair-trade organisations for over 10 years. After he published his first book, he went to Nepal and India to work with various fair-trade projects who now produce handmade toys and other products related to his books. These are sold on his personal website (where you can also get signed art prints), and all the profits from each sale goes right back into making more fair-trade projects.
Mr Haughton also set up aother fair-trade project called NODE, which works with a Nepalese non-profit technical school for disadvantaged adults. The employees are all given an education and apart from receiving fair wages, they also support a school and orphanage. The school now produces gorgeous hand woven rugs designed by Mr Haughton (and many other designers who collaborate with NODE to produce custom-made rugs).
I felt really privileged to have had the opportunity to meet with such a lovely person, who is using his skills for good and for awesome!