From sarcastic adult writer to children's author: Kate Beaton on the joys of writing for kids

Comics artist Kate Beaton discusses her two recent children's books, her favourite book growing up and why princesses can be an empowering symbol for young readers.
Comic artist Kate Beaton is the creator of Hark! A Vagrant as well as children's books such as The Princess and the Pony and King Baby. (Steve Rankin Photography)

"If Scholastic knocked on your door, you'd say yes."

This is what Kate Beaton was faced with when she was approached to write a children's book for the popular publisher. Having made a name for herself as a sarcastic adult comic artist and creator of Hark! A Vagrant, kids' books was not exactly her realm of expertise but she happily accepted the challenge. 

The results were The Princess and the Pony (2015) and King Baby (2016), two books that have impressed kids so much that Beaton finds herself receiving mail from kids, including letters containing drawings of her characters.

Beaton's philosophy, when it comes to writing for children, is to "respect how much they know and how much they're learning each day," as opposed to simplifying. And as for using the age-old trope of the helpless princess, Beaton has a contrary take on it (thus featuring one in her first kids' book). 

"A princess is a young person with a lot of power and who gets to make her own choices and people have to listen to her," she explains. "That's a really appealing character that a kid can relate to." 

— Produced by Diane Eros