We're Going To Find The Monster! Q&A with Dapo Adeola

Published on: 01 November 2021

We absolutely LOVE BookTrust Writer-Illustrator in Residence Dapo Adeola and Malorie Blackman's picture book, We're Going To Find The Monster. Here, Dapo answers some of our questions about where the idea for the picture book came from, depicting a character with vitiligo, and working with a legendary author...

Dapo Adeola and the cover of We're Going To Find The MonsterDapo Adeola and the cover of We're Going To Find The Monster

What was it like to work with the legendary Malorie Blackman?

Working with Malorie was one of, if not, the most pleasant experiences I’ve had working with an author so far. She was so considerate of my contributions to the story as an illustrator and very trustful of the decisions I made, which is what led to such a wonderful and cohesive relationship between her text and my pictures. 

Monster is based on a story Malorie originally had published in the 1990s - how was it that it came to be re-imagined now and how did you become involved?

I’m not entirely sure what led to the book being revamped, but my own involvement was down to my editor Joe from Puffin thinking that I’d be a good fit for retelling the story. I wasn’t able to do a test for the book at the time due to me working on “Look Up!”, but Joe presented my work from Look Up! to Malorie as a test and she approved, which meant I’d got the job.

Was it your own idea to include a child with vitiligo and if so what inspired you to do this? 

Yes, it was my idea. The story doesn’t mention it at all so it was a great opportunity to show someone with vitiligo just living their best life, the same as everyone else.

Throughout my career I hope to be able to draw as many different representations of Black people as I can, and a person with vitiligo is just another type of a Black person that exists, to me. 
Did you find you needed to do much research or consultation to check your depiction was accurate?

I didn’t have to do that much research at all as the story didn’t revolve around the character’s vitiligo; I just used Google Images to find some references to make sure I wasn’t misrepresenting her. We did get folks from the Vitiligo Society to proofread the book just to be sure of its accuracy in depiction. They gave it a resounding thumbs up. 

The children’s characters really shine through and we love the way there is no mention of vitiligo in the story, so it’s casual inclusivity at its best!  Was this always the intention?

The story is a retelling of Malorie’s 21 year old picture book “Marty Monster” which had nothing to do with vitiligo. I saw this as an opportunity to add an extra visual layer that would add even more to the story without taking anything away from or interfering with Malorie’s text. Definitely casual inclusivity, but with deliberate purpose and intention. 

Had you ever come across any children’s book characters with vitiligo before?

I’ve seen children with vitiligo in picture books before, but they were always secondary or background characters. I personally have never seen one as a prominent lead character on the front cover in the manner we’ve got Charlie as a main character. And from the feedback I’ve received since it’s definitely a first for many people too. Hopefully it becomes a norm going forward. 

Meet our latest Writer in Residence

Every six months, BookTrust appoints a new Writer in Residence to write blogs, run competitions and give us their own unique perspective on the world of children's books. Our current Writer in Residence is Rashmi Sirdeshpande.

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