Abracadabra, katakurico! Oh, goodness! Out pops a cat from Hattie’s magic hat. Can you guess what creature will appear from the magic hat next? Follow along as Hattie conjures up a parade of animals from her magic hat, and don’t miss the grand finale! This humorous story is the perfect read-aloud to encourage audience participation.

We asked Satoshi Kitamura about his writing and illustration process for Hat Tricks. Check out the full interview!

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Q: What do you enjoy most about writing and illustrating for children?

A: Making things is always a joy. I like building with timber and carpentry tools, like a book shelf or a chair.  But there’s nothing more enjoyable than inventing a story and the images around it.

Q: Do you do all your writing first and then all your illustrating, or do both progress simultaneously as you develop a story?

A: The story and images help each other and develop into a picture book.

Q: What medium did you use to create these illustrations?

A: I drew with pen and ink first, then painted with watercolor.

Q: How has your advertising background influenced your career in children’s book illustration?

A: I learned to see things from the receiving end. Basically, I do things as I like, but sometimes I try to see if my idea would make sense to six years old readers.

Q: If you hadn’t started creating writing and illustrating children’s books, what would you be doing?

A: I would be a potter, a joiner, a stonemason. . .  some kind of craftsman.

Q: How much of your drawing inspiration comes from the comics you enjoyed as a child?

A: Copying the comic characters I liked must have influenced my style of drawing. Also 60s and 70s graphic design and illustration from US, Europe, and Japan were big influences for me when I was a teenager.

Q: Hat Tricks features an adorable rabbit magician named Hattie—what inspired you to write a story about a rabbit and her magic hat?

A: I wanted to write a book about a magician. A rabbit is a typical animal that comes out of a magician’s hat, and I thought it would be fun if the rabbit herself was a magician.

Q: What did you enjoy most about this particular picture book? Which spread is your favorite?

A: I simply enjoyed drawing the animals. The best spread for me is of the animals trying to pull the elephant out of the hat.

Q: If you were Hattie, what would you pull out of your magic hat?

A: What a difficult question! How about a pair of magical wings that can make me fly freely like a bird?

Q: What do you find “magical”?

A: Being in the world is magical. That there is a world or universe and that we are all alive somewhere in this world are terribly magical to me.

Q: What can we look forward to next from you?

A: A book about smiles is coming out in Europe in the fall.