Stuart A. Kallen

Stuart A. Kallen has written more than 350 nonfiction books for children and young adults. His books have covered a wide arc of human history, culture, and science. Kallen is also an accomplished singer-songwriter and guitarist in San Diego, California.


What was your favorite book when you were a child?

When I was 5 years old I was in love with Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. I just loved the way Harold, a character who was about my age, used his purple crayon to create magical worlds by simply drawing them. Harold’s crayon also made me a lifelong lover of grape, mauve, burgundy, and other shades of purple.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

Tiger got to hunt,
Bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder, “Why, why, why?”
Tiger got to sleep,
Bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.
—Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?

Kurt Vonnegut for his blend of science fiction, clever social commentary, and humor, exemplified by Cat’s Cradle; God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater; and Slapstick.


I love everything by British novelist Neil Gaiman, who is my idea of a modern Renaissance man. He writes exceptional scifi/fantasy novels like Anansi Boys and The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and he also creates graphic novels, screenplays, and radio shows. 


Christopher Moore is another writer who blends humor, a little fantasy, and a lot of “who dunnit?.” Sacré Bleu, one of his recent books, is a detective story set in nineteenth century France. It follows famous painters like Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet, and Pissarro as they attempt to unravel the mystery behind the death of Vincent van Gogh.

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?

At age 30 I realized I wasn’t going to become a rock star despite my best efforts, so I channeled my rhythm and my blues onto the page.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?

Keep a daily journal; write down everything you see, smell, touch and hear; make up stories no matter how long, short, serious or silly; and don’t expect to get rich (you won’t care if you’re doing what you love).