Salina Yoon

Salina Yoon is the author and illustrator of over 160 books for children including the six-book Penguin picture book series that begins with "Penguin and Pinecone". This event kicks off our 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program.

The first 100 children ages 0-5 to register for the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program will receive a free copy of one of Salina Yoon’s books.

Read our interview with the author.

Johnson County Public Library: What is your favorite part of creating your books?

Salina Yoon: Completing the first loose draft of a project is my favorite part - before the self-doubt, critical editorial feedback and multiple revisions take place.

JCPL: You've written and/or illustrated almost 200 books for children. What do you know now that you didn't when you started out?

SY: I never dreamed that I could be creating books for children for a living - without a supplemental day job to support this passion! It would have sounded too good to be true, but for the last 17 years, that's exactly what I've done. It still feels like a dream come true!

JCPL: How do you decide if a story is going to become a picture book, a novelty book, an early reader, etc.?

SY: I determine the format primarily by the complexity of the subject matter, vocabulary and word count. A novelty book is usually an art and concept driven book with limited words. A picture book is often character and/or story driven. An early reader is determined by the vocabulary, word count and number of pages.

JCPL: If you weren't an author and illustrator, what would you do for a living?

SY: I would be a kindergarten teacher! I love the idea of teaching in creative ways, using art, music and games to teach concepts. And I've always admired the art produced by kindergartners - it is fearless, joyful and unexpected!

JCPL: What is your favorite book and why?

SY: My favorite book that I've written and illustrated myself is "Penguin and Pinecone."  The main character was inspired by my then toddler son, Max, who brought home a pinecone after a walk and asked me to cut it a blanket to keep it warm. This tender moment inspired the powerful friendship tale between Penguin and Pinecone.

My favorite book from childhood was "Oh, What a Busy Day" by Gyo Fujikawa. At the time, I could not read this book on my own, but the illustrations pulled me into an idyllic world that I loved to escape to. I often imagine my own stories by being prompted by the beautiful illustrations.

JCPL: Where do you get your inspiration and ideas for your books?

SY: My ideas have come from as many things as I have books! Many of my novelty book ideas have come from my children's toys, greeting cards, books, wrapping paper, plush dolls, kitchen utensils, pizza, video games, amusement parks and more! It sounds random because they are. Ideas can come from just about anything if one's mind is open to exploring them! But for my picture book stories, the ideas are often inspired in part by real people in my life like my boys, my mother, my sister and even myself.