Kyle Hughes-Odgers on how fatherhood inspired his new board book Everything You Want to See

Kyle Hughes-Odgers is the creator of a new board book Everything You Want to See. The artist and father takes us through how he gets his ideas and the collaborative process of translating them onto the page.

Everything You Want to See started as an idea in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic. I was at home playing drawing games with my two small children and I asked my son what he wanted me to draw. He replied, ‘A tiger in a car’. Pretty good idea for a drawing, if you ask me.

An orange tiger in a green sports car.

I asked my daughter, who was only six months old at the time, and she just gurgled, but I took that as ‘A monster, of course’.

Days, weeks and months went by and she suddenly had some words – she suggested, ‘A rainbow and a giant cake’. More great ideas for drawings. I love giant cakes.

An image of a orange and pink illustrated cake with a slice cut out of it and a ladder leaning against it.

The illustrations and compositions became collaborative also. For example, on the page with ‘A horse’ my son thought it would make the drawing far more engaging if the apple I had drawn for the horse was placed on his back and not the ground. I agreed with him. How else will the horse carry his snack around? He also wanted the horse to have twenty-six legs. Which I did draw, but the horse with four legs made the final edit. And for ‘An electric guitar’ we wanted to make this less literal – and what better way than if it is played by a space alien on the moon. 

My only regret is the page ‘A tiny flea’. I am really happy with this little monster and he even has a sound effect in my house when we read that page. It sounds sort of like this: ‘Blarghablurbagah’, but you need to say it fast.

An image of dark green background with a very small drawing of a black flea.

Anyway, my dad was looking at the book and he had his thumb over the drawing of the tiny flea. He read the words out aloud: ‘”A tiny flea” – brilliant! It’s just a blank page!’. He was right. That is brilliant. But for me, a missed opportunity. Maybe something you can try and playfully trick your kids with if you hide the flea with a thumb.

For two years we have been talking about and drawing what they want to see. Everything they want to see. We still draw – but it’s time for the book to launch.

This book is for my kids hopefully it’s everything other kids want to see too.

Join Kyle for the launch at Rabble Books on 23 April 2022.

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