Interview with Matthew Van Fleet, Author and Illustrator

Are you looking for interactive and educational books for your toddler or preschool aged child? How about your child with special needs that needs a book that is multi-sensory?

Matthew Van Fleet’s innovative books have been introducing children to basic concepts for more than twenty years. His multi-sensory books encourage toddlers to touch, press, pull, lift, and even smell as they explore colors, shapes, numbers, letters, opposites, and more. To learn more about Matthew Van Fleet, click here. To learn more about this best selling NY Times author and his published books, click here.

I recently reviewed the book, Chomp Goes the Alligator and wanted to interview Matthew about the process in creating these unique and multi-sensory books. These books are not only ideal for young children but also children with special needs that require a book that they can touch, feel and interact with. To view my review of Chomp Goes the Alligator with added language tips, click here.



Thank you Matthew for answering my questions!

I love how your books are so interactive. What was your inspiration in creating your most recent book, Chomp Goes the Alligator?

I had originally come up with the idea for Chomp Goes the Alligator back in 2002. The original version didn’t have textures or die cuts through the pages, it just had a flap for the alligator’s stomach that got larger and filled with animals as the book progressed. It really wasn’t that interesting and was rejected (thankfully) by a few places. I always liked the idea of an alligator getting bigger and bigger as it ate things— I also just like to draw alligators.

What is the process in creating the interactive and multi-sensory components in your books?

I do all the graphic design and mechanicals for all my books, including the design of any moving parts. I’d already done several books using the same construction as the alligator in Chomp, so that wasn’t difficult. The placement of die cuts and choice of textures actually took a long time. Not only does the texture have to make sense for two things (a fuzzy white milkweed pod and a fuzzy white crane for instance) but the die cut that forms the milkweed on the right side also has to make sense on the left hand page on the following page (it makes the opening to the log).

Basically all my books start with a hand made sample book. This is by far the longest and most difficult part, since I have to write, sketch and construct a working sample of the entire book with all tactile elements and moving parts. That original hand sample is is sent to the printer along with print outs of the construction so that they can provide a blank sample dummy and pricing. If that pricing works and there are no problems with the mechanical elements then I proceed with painting the final artwork. After that I create mechanical files (computer files with all the graphics, artwork etc) for the printer and make a hand sample from those files to check that everything is working. It’s a lot of cutting and gluing!

To see a video of Matthew Van Fleet discussing his books Cat and Dog, check out this video below

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