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Beyond the Page: John Sandford

This week we are delighted to feature John Sandford, author of
Oak Leaf (Cameron Kids). Get to know John through fun questions below.

What’s your favorite (current or all-time) movie:

I apologize: after taking a mental poll, many of my answers came up as a tie. Yes, even after a recount.  I’m so sorry.

I love Disney’s Pinocchio, and I also love Master and Commander: both appeal to the 10 year old in me as epic, expansive, frightening, heroic, and way beyond the central Illinois world I knew growing up.

What was your favorite childhood TV show and why?

In the 1950s beaming from Channel 3, WCIA in Champain/Urbana, Illinois: Sheriff Sid. He wore cowboy hat, boots, and embroidered shirt, and had puppets (like Commodore Spintop whose pith helmet would elevate and spin when he was agitated). Sheriff Sid was also an artist, and would draw with charcoal! I found out the hard way that the charcoal he used was not the same charcoal we used in our Old Smokey barbecue.

The tie on this goes to another children’s show that came from a Peoria channel: Cap’n Jenks and Salty Sam. They dressed as sailors, and sat around talking, laughing, smoking cigarettes and sipping something from coffee cups between cartoons. My parents would watch and laugh at things I didn’t understand, but it seemed everyone was having a pretty good time.

TIES: At some point, I will settle all these logjams with a steel cage match where the opponents fight things out.

If I could only eat one food for a week, what would I pick?

(Who is footing this bill, by the way?) I live in Chicago, so: pizza. I don’t mean just that pizza people think they know about Chicago, it’s a lot more than that. Deep dish, and stuffed, yes . . . and then the neighborhood football-pizza, or thin crust, or cracker crust, or South Side thin-crust, and then the individual purveyors, innovators, and the bar styles. . . I’m sorry, I need more than a week.  

Tell us one insider-fact about Oak Leaf.

OAK LEAF, published by Cameron Kids is about the journey of a leaf after leaving the tree in Fall, blown by the wind over farmland, sea, and city, to its final destination. This was inspired by my first movie experience, when I was four or five.  My sisters Jo and Diane took me to see Disney’s Peter Pan. After coming home,  My mind was so full of the flying, swooping and diving, I flew all over the yard, arms out, catching the wind. I’ve had many flying dreams since, and was so happy my friends at Cameron Kids understood this, as expert fliers themselves.


John Sandford

John Sandford writes and illustrates stories for children’s books and magazines. Mr. Sandford studied painting and illustration at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, and worked for years as an art director for Cricket Media. He illustrated his first picture book in 1978; OAK LEAF is his 65th book. John regularly consults with creatives, presents to schools, and speaks at conferences and workshops for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

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