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Derek Anderson

Derek Anderson drew the very first picture he can remember drawing when he was in kindergarten at Roosevelt Elementary School in Ames, Iowa. 

It was a crayon drawing of the Easter Bunny.

Derek Anderson

When he finished it, Derek walked it down the hall to the office and proudly presented it to Mr. Berhow, the principal of his school. Tom Berhow displayed that picture on the wall of his office for the rest of the school year. Derek's fate was sealed. From then on, he knew he was going to be an artist.

When he reached second grade, Derek wrote his first story and he's never stopped writing or drawing since.

After graduating from college, Derek set his sights on becoming an author and illustrator of children’s books. His road to publication would be a long, difficult one. Derek began writing stories and painting pictures to submit to publishers. It would be years before his work was strong enough to capture anybody’s attention. Even then, the responses were "no." After years of submitting his work and nothing to show for it but a stack of rejection letters and a lot of paintings, Derek was growing discouraged. He knew he had to make a change.

One day, he threw away the folder that he’d used to keep track of publisher submissions. He got out a new one and wrote 'THE BOOK SCORE' in large, bold letters across the top of it. He decided to turn the whole thing into a game. From that day on, Derek began collecting rejection letters. This was just the shift in mindset he needed— the pressure was off. He was free to develop his work and continue growing as a writer and artist. When a publisher sent him a rejection letter after that, he simply added it to his collection. His work grew stronger and more playful over the following months and editors and art directors took notice. He soon began receiving letters of interest and calls about his work.

After taking his portfolio to New York in the spring of 2001, Derek got the opportunity he’d been waiting for. An art director at Random House offered him the chance to illustrate an early reader called Ready? Set. Raymond! by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Derek loved every minute of working on that book.

And then he was offered the chance to illustrate a picture book that would change everything. Little Quack by Lauren Thompson was a perfect fit for Derek’s work. Little Quack was published to glowing reviews and Derek was named a Publishers Weekly Flying Start. Little Quack would go on to become a New York Times bestseller and garner awards including the National Parenting Publication Gold Award and the IRA/CBC Children’s Choice Award. Over the following years, it grew into a series that would sell millions of copies around the world.         

Derek has created more than twenty-five books for children since then. He has illustrated books by Lydia Maria Child, Judy Sierra, Jane Yolen, David Hochman and Ruth Kennison and the award-winning Hot Rod Hamster series written by Cynthia Lord. Derek has written eleven books including Gladys Goes Out to Lunch, Ten Pigs: An Epic Bath Adventure, Ten Hungry Pigs, Croc and Ally: Friends Forever, Croc and Ally: Fun, Fun, Fun!, What About Harry? and his forthcoming chapter book Benny McGee and the Shark: The Shark Report. 

Derek’s books have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, the Publishers Weekly bestseller list, Bank Street College’s Best Books of the year lists and garnered awards including the National Parenting Publication Gold Award, the CBC Children's Choice Award, the Parents' Choice Award, the state of Wyoming’s Buckaroo Award, the state of Mississippi’s Magnolia Award and the South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Derek lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife, Cheryl, and their dog, Louie.

 

Five Fun Facts

Five

Derek is terrified of heights. But he doesn’t want fear to hold him back from doing anything. So in 1994 he went skydiving to face his fear. Derek jumped out of an airplane in Baldwin, Wisconsin at 3,000 feet. It was a thrilling experience!

But... Derek is still afraid of heights.

Derek AndersonDerek with a death-grip on the rail at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France in 2006
He is clearly not cured of his fear of heights

Four

Derek once met his childhood hero, Charles Schulz (creator of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the Peanuts gang). Charles Schulz was originally from St. Paul, Minnesota and he’d returned to the Twin Cities for a celebration in 1995. Derek hadn't been published yet and was still dreaming of doing big things with his stories and artwork.

Derek Anderson and Charles Schulz

Three

In 2014 Derek was asked by the Ames Public Library (in his hometown of Ames, Iowa) to create the artwork for the outside of a new bookmobile. Derek came up with the concept of turning it into a bus for his characters. At thirty feet long, it wasn’t an easy project. It took Derek five months to create the artwork for the two sides, the front and back. Derek added flames (because every bookmobile should have flames). And it’s filled with fun details from his books.

Derek Anderson Bookmobile

Derek Anderson

Ames Public Library Bookmobile

Derek Anderson Ames Public Library

Two

Derek hides himself in nearly every book he makes (he began doing this in his book Gladys Goes Out to Lunch). He always hides himself as a boy with his black glasses, because that’s when he began writing stories and drawing pictures. Here are two examples where we'll show you the entire picture and where Derek is hidden (just in case you don't spot him).

Here's little Derek...

Derek Anderson Author

 

Inside the book
Croc and Ally: Friends ForeverCroc and Ally

The Croc and Ally books each consist of three short stories.
Derek is hidden in a picture in the third story, The Moon is Hiding.

Croc and Ally Derek Anderson

A closer look...

Croc and Ally

 

Inside the book
Ten Pigs: An Epic Bath Adventure

Ten Pigs: An Epic Bath Adventure

This is a tricky one. Look in the large puddle beneath the tub.
(It's much easier to see when you're looking at the actual book)

Ten Pigs and Derek Anderson

If you turn the book upside down, you'll see Derek's face reflected in the water.

A closer look...

Ten Pigs Derek Anderson

One

Derek loves to play! He is constantly writing, drawing and exploring new ways of creating stories and pictures. Here are a few of Derek's paintings outside the world of books and one fun animation he created...

Derek Anderson "The Joy Ride"

Derek Anderson"The rare and mysterious dance of the sunny pants"

Derek Anderson"Swine Flu"

The Moon"One night, the Moon"

 

A Bonus Interview from 2018