Terry and Eric Fan

What books did you read when you were a child?
Eric: My favourite picture book was Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. I also read a lot of Dr. Seuss, and Richard Scarry. Bread and Jam for Francis was another favourite.

Terry: Among my favourites were books by Maurice Sendak, Charles M. Shulz, Richard Scary, Roald Dahl, Jean de Brunhoof, Dr. Seuss, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Kenneth Grahame, E.B. White, L. Frank Baum, J.M. Barrie, J.R.R. Tolkein, and Russell & Lilian Hoban. I’m probably missing a bunch though.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
Eric: That’s a tough one. Maybe Tintin, because I love to travel, and he’s been almost everywhere (even the moon!) He also has a cute and loyal dog, and some quirky, interesting friends. Either that, or the protagonist from H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine. Although he has a rather bleak experience, I’m incredibly curious about travelling to the past and future.

Terry: I think maybe Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit. I’ve always wanted to live in a Hobbit Hole in the Shire.

What is the best thing about reading?
Eric: I can’t really say it better than George R. R. Martin: “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

Terry: How it completely transports me into a different world for a time. I get so totally lost in a book while reading it, there’s nothing that can compare. It’s also wonderful in that it requires the reader to participate by using their own imagination. That make it much more mentally engaging/rewarding compared to something like T.V.

What is your all time favourite book?
Eric: It’s so hard to name just one. Maybe Homer’s Odyssey, although in the strictest sense it’s not a book since it comes from an oral history rather than a written one.

Terry: I can’t really answer that because I have a whole list of favourite books that I love for different reasons! There are just too many good books out there.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Eric: I’m not an expert on parenting, but I’d say encouraging communication in as many different forms as possible: art, music, writing. There are so many different and creative ways to communicate.
Terry: I think actively involving them in collaborative projects would be a good idea. So much in life involves collaboration to one extent of another. Also I agree with Eric that communication should be encourages in as many creative ways as possible.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
Eric: Our dad used to invent stories for us when we were little. I think that’s when I realized the power of storytelling, since they would always have us on the edge of our seat. His stories were also “choose your own adventure” stories, so we had to make decisions along the way, and think our way out of difficult situations. In that way we were also participating in the generation of the story and using our imagination. We also wrote our first picture book before we could read (about dinosaurs of course) which our mom dutifully transcribed for us, and bound into a book, which we still have to this day.

Terry: I think Eric already answered this one for me because I was basically going to say the same thing! We had a lot of wonderful, shared experiences growing up that had a big impact on both of us. Both of our parents actively encouraged us artistically and also inspired us greatly through their own creative endeavours.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
Eric: I don’t have any children myself, but I like to read to our niece and nephews. It’s fun reading our own books to them because I get to see their reaction to it as children. It’s also fun sharing books with them that I loved as a kid.

Terry: Like Eric, I don’t have any children / grandchildren, but we have three nephews and a niece. I know our younger brother Devin (their dad) and my sister-in-law, Sarah, read to them almost every night at bedtime, so I think that’s a terrific way to encourage them. I used to read to them when I had the chance, but as they’ve grown older not as much.

I enjoyed reading them the same books that I loved as a child. One thing I learned was to avoid reading them digital versions of the books e=because they often include “extras” such as sound effects and animated sequences. Unfortunately these extras become a real distraction to the kids while trying to read something, as cool as they are.

Brothers Eric Fan and Terry Fan received their formal art training at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto. Their work is a blend of traditional and contemporary techniques, using ink or graphite mixed with digital. The Night Gardener is their first picture book. They also did the illustrations for astronaut Chris Hadfield’s children’s book The Darkest Dark (Tundra Books/Penguin Random House Canada; Little, Brown USA; Macmillan UK.)

Upcoming titles include: illustrations for The Antlered Ship, by Dashka Slater (Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster, Fall 2017). Ocean Meets Sky, written and illustrated by The Fan Brothers (Simon & Schuster, Summer 2018). Illustrations for Scarecrow, by Beth Ferry (HarperCollins, 2019).

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