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A conversation with Yokococo, author of Hans & Matilda

Meet the winner of the Most Promising New Talent in our Junior Design Awards 2012

Posted: 17 May 2012
by Catherine O'Dolan

Why did you choose cats (and they are very cute!) as your characters?
Unfortunately I have a cat allergy. When I was trying to think about a new idea, a stray cat was visiting my house very often. He was very sweet and beautiful. I couldn't let him in because of my allergy. I felt guilty about him, especially when it was cold or raining. But he didn't look sad or poor at all. He was even plump and looked happy. (I am sure he has a lot of places to visit and get fed.) Probably because of him I started thinking about a cat character.

Who was the inspiration for your mischievous cat Hans? Myself...!

What were you like as a child (more Hans or Matilda?)
Definitely Matilda. I was very shy and quiet. This story is kind of about myself. I am the first and the eldest child of the three. So I couldn't help being a goody-goody eldest child who wants everyone to think that she is good but who is secretly bad (naughty). When I was in elementary school, I always longed to be a wild and cheerful child but I wasn't. I was always disappointed to see the comments of my mother and teachers then. It was always the same: “Yoko is shy and quiet.”

What were your favourite books as a child?
One of my favourite picture books when I was little was 'Pitschi' by Hans Fischer. This is another reason why I created cat characters this time. The name 'Hans' came from Hans Fischer. Pitschi is a very sweet little black cat. (Matilda was named after one of my friend's very cute girl, Tilly.)
Another my favourite is “My father's dragon” by Ruth Stiles Gannett. The story is about an adventure by a little boy called Elmer saving a poor dragon. It was an exciting story and it has beautiful illustrations as well.

Who are your influences and inspiration?
I love many English and European artists, such as Pierre Bonnard, Edward Bawden, Winifred Nicholson, Mary Fedden, Eric Ravilious, Charlotte Voake, Tove Jansson, Jefferey Fisher and Ludwig Bemelmans. But since I studied art in England, I really felt that I was very much influenced by Japanese traditional painting artists deep down, like Korin Ogata, Kaii Higashiyama, Chikkyo Ono who had strong sense of space.

Will there be more adventures for Hans and Matilda?
Hopefully there will be!

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