With his bold, vibrant, technicolour illustrations and perfect comic timing, Chris Haughton is one of the most popular authors and illustrators working today. A cast of beloved quirky animal characters line the pages of popular favourites including A Bit Lost and Shh! We Have a Plan.
Born in Dublin, Haughton says his early interests included dinosaurs, The Muppets and, of course, drawing. Having worked all over the world, including as a ‘handyman’ at Paddington train station and a waiter in San Francisco Haughton started illustrating for newspapers before setting out on a career in design.
His first book A Bit Lost was the result of wanting to give one of his designs, a little bird, his own story. Published in 2011, originally in Korean, the book has now been translated into 20 languages and garnered numerous awards including The Booktrust Best New Illustrators Award UK; it was nominated for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize.
The book cemented Haughton’s career as an illustrator, he comments ‘that book went on to do very well and received a lot of attention as a result of the awards. I was in complete shock and I feel extremely lucky to have made a career from children’s books.’
A Naughty Dog, Some Tricky Birds and Some Very Sleepy Bears
Since the success of A Bit Lost, Haughton has been busy adding to his collection of lovable animal characters including writing about a mischievous dog in Oh No George! and a crew of indefatigable bird-hunters (out-witted by some wily birds) in Shh! We Have a Plan! Shh! We Have a Plan! was also the first book Haughton made using cut paper collages (although his style of illustration often emulates the technique).
The simple question and answer structure of his picture books – posing a question on one page to make readers want to turn over to find the answer – is a technique that has proved brilliantly popular with adults and children alike. Haughton has stated that one of his aims in his children’s books is to have the images communicate so clearly that children can understand the books without the words.
The idea for Haughton’s 2016 book Good Night Everyone came from a visit to his sister’s Montessori school where she was using blocks to explain the powers of ten. This inspired Haughton to think of a way to explain scale to very young children.
He hit on the idea of having a go-to-sleep book where the pages move from the smallest animal yawning gradually moving to bigger and bigger animal yawns.