Jo Rooks is an illustrator, author, and graphic designer living in leafy South West London with her husband and two children. Jo studied at Bath School of Art and Design and pursued a career in graphic design. When Jo had her two children, she began to rediscover her love of art, poetry, and creative writing for children. She is passionate about reading with children and hopes to bring lovable characters and meaningful messages in her story books.
You may remember Jo from her book, A Box of Butterflies, which she authored and illustrated. You can find our initial discussion of that process with Jo here. Now she returns to talk with us a little about her newest children’s book: Hector’s Favorite Place.
Once again, Jo Rooks!
What is your newest book about? Hector’s Favorite Place is about a Hedgehog called Hector who enjoys all the cozy comforts of being at home. He has lots of interests and everything he needs. But the more he stays at home, the more fearful he becomes about going outside and trying new things. His worries begin to take over and before long his friendships are becoming affected.
What is your newest book really about? This story is very close to my heart as my daughter has suffered with a bit of social anxiety in the past where she would be a confident and bubbly child at home and then the idea of going somewhere new and meeting new people would fill her with dread. I was at first baffled by this. It would always take me by surprise at birthday parties especially, when she was so excited to go and then cling to my leg the entire time that we were there. Since then, I have realised that this is quite normal and a child who is very aware will often worry before doing new things. In fact, I’ve come to realise that I have a bit of a Hector personality sometimes myself!
How did you get your ideas for the characters? I’m a big fan of woodland animals and was playing about with illustrating squirrels and badgers. I had a go at a hedgehog, and he began to develop a little personality through the illustrations. For some reason, I had this vision of him on roller skates or ice skates … skidding out of control. And that’s when that part of the story was developed.