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3 Questions with Toby Allen

Toby Allen

What is your favorite part of working on these children’s books?

The ideas generation and design process is always the part that I enjoy most and look forwards to. This is the same for every project I work on, but particularly with the “Land of” books because I had a lot of freedom with the subject matter, so it’s fun to play around and see what emerges. We start with a broad idea of the setting and characters and working close with Katie, I explore many different options. It can be a challenge when a design is being elusive, but once we come up with something that fits our collective vision, it’s a super satisfying feeling. The process of taking Katie’s words and returning later with a character design or sketch of a scene that captures those ideas is truly addictive.


What are your favorite kinds of stories?

I have always loves fairy tales and mythology, Greek and Norse mythology in particular. I remember trawling through fairy tale or mythology anthologies when I was very young, mostly looking at the illustrations, but occasionally reading them and imagining all the wonderful creatures, characters and worlds. I really enjoy stories that have a meaning or a lesson to teach us. Even the oldest and seemingly irrelevant tale can teach us something about the world we live in today. I love stories of magic and you can find a lot of that influence in the “Land of” books.


What would you be doing if you weren’t working as an illustrator/author, i.e. what is your other dream job?

I think I would have to do be doing something related to ancient history (or again, mythology.) I love to learn about how people lived in the past, what did they eat, the medicines they used, what did they value and how did people interact with each other on a daily basis. I’m not one to travel, so being the kind of historian that sifts through ancient tomes, studies paintings and hand written letters or tries to replicate an old cure for boils would suit me perfectly.



About Toby Allen
Illustrator Toby Allen’s whole life has been about drawing and he’s had a pen in his hand since he can remember. With a zest for the fantastic and an ability to create worlds no one has ever seen, he brings new life to children’s books.

Toby holds a BA Honors Degree in Illustration from Plymouth College of Art located in Plymouth, England. He has pursued a creative education since high school, with that pen always in hand. Since he has started working professionally, he always takes the opportunity to learn a new skill along the way.

Other works by Toby include “Real Monsters,” his physical representations of mental illnesses aimed at educating and reducing stigma surrounding mental health issues. He also illustrated Charlie’s Choices, a children’s book that aids selectively mute children and their parents. Find out more at Toby’s website: http://zestydoesthings.tumblr.com/

Together they are creating mindfulness tools that are fun, memorable, and presented in a simple, applicable format. By taking important life lessons and disguising them with Katie’s engaging rhymes and Toby’s brilliant illustrations, they are making these personal growth tools accessible for readers of all ages.

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