Skinny Dip with Mike Wohnoutka

Mike Wohnoutka

Mike Wohnout­ka

We inter­viewed Mike Wohnout­ka, chil­dren’s book illus­tra­tor, wide­ly known for his books Dad’s First Day, Moo!, and Lit­tle Pup­py and the Big Green Mon­ster. (Mike’s last name is pro­nounced wuh-noot-kuh.)

Which book do you find your­self rec­om­mend­ing passionately?

Pic­ture books in gen­er­al. I often hear par­ents say their chil­dren are too old for pic­ture books. Recent­ly a par­ent told me her first grad­er had “moved on” from pic­ture books.  This absolute­ly dri­ves me crazy. You are nev­er too old for pic­ture books.  They are sec­ond to none when it comes to art, sto­ry­telling, and language.

picture books

Favorite city to visit?

New York. I love the muse­ums, com­e­dy clubs, book stores, and the­aters. It’s also nice to go to lunch with my edi­tors since most of the pub­lish­ers I work with are in New York.

Most cher­ished child­hood memory?

Play­ing Kick the Can with all the kids in our neighborhood.

Mike Wohnoutka and David ShannonIllus­tra­tor’s work you most admire?

David Shan­non. David is the rea­son I became an illus­tra­tor. After see­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion, when I was in col­lege, about how he illus­trat­ed his first children’s book, How Many Spots Does A Leop­ard Have?,  I thought “THAT is what I want to do!” His paint­ings are tech­ni­cal­ly stun­ning and his sto­ries are so funny.

When I vis­it schools I tell stu­dents about David being such an influ­ence on me. It’s amaz­ing how excit­ed the stu­dents get when I show the cov­er of No David! and it’s incred­i­ble that every stu­dent is famil­iar with that series. He obvi­ous­ly has struck a chord with children.

A cou­ple years ago, David and I both pre­sent­ed at the Maz­za Muse­um sum­mer con­fer­ence. It was won­der­ful to meet him. He  is the nicest guy and it was fun to let him know how much of an inspi­ra­tion he has been to me.

Go-to drink?

Cof­fee, espe­cial­ly in the morn­ing as I write or paint.

Mike Wohnoutka

Copy­right Mike Wohnoutka

Favorite sea­son?

Fall. Leaves chang­ing col­ors, cool­er weath­er, the World Series, and Hal­loween are a few of the many things I love about fall.

Dream vaca­tion?


What gives you shivers?


Strangest tourist attraction?

Mike Wohnoutka's family at the Wizarding World of Harry PotterOur fam­i­ly recent­ly took a trip to Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios in Orlan­do, main­ly to vis­it The Wiz­ard­ing World of Har­ry Pot­ter. It was such a fun vaca­tion. The atten­tion to detail in cre­at­ing Diagon Alley, Hog­warts Express, and Hogsmeade was awe-inspiring.

My wife and I got teary-eyed when we first entered Diagon Alley. 

Also, the rides through­out Uni­ver­sal and Islands of Adven­ture were a blast. Of course our kids loved it all, but the strange thing about this tourist attrac­tion is how much my wife and I tru­ly enjoyed every­thing, too. We can’t wait to go back.

Broth­ers or sis­ters? How did they shape your life?

Ever since I can remem­ber, I’ve loved to draw. Hav­ing three old­er broth­ers who were all real­ly good at draw­ing had a big influ­ence on me. I remem­ber being so impressed with the sim­plest sketch they would do and I was deter­mined to be as good as they were.

Best tip for liv­ing a con­tent­ed life?

I have found med­i­ta­tion and yoga very help­ful. I start every day with a 20 minute med­i­ta­tion (before the coffee).

2 Responses to Skinny Dip with Mike Wohnoutka

  1. Heidi Kay Hammond March 24, 2017 at 12:09 pm #

    Loved your Skin­ny Dip interview.
    Yes to pic­ture books!
    Yes to Prague! I’m off on a boat/bike tour of the Czech Repub­lic this sum­mer start­ing in Prague.
    Best wish­es to you and David for the MN Book Award!

  2. David LaRochelle March 24, 2017 at 12:17 pm #

    Your descrip­tions of Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios make me want to get on a plane and leave right now. You are so right about nev­er out­grow­ing pic­ture books. And for some­one who gets the shiv­ers about mice, you draw them very well!

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