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  • Writer's pictureBenay Hicks

Words to Live By: Darren Farrell

Words to Live By features exclusive interviews with authors, artists, and community members.

Darren Farrell

November 1, 2022

Darren Farrell is an award-winning author and illustrator of books for children. His book, Thank You, Octopus, was an NPR Best Book of the Year, a Huffington Post Funniest Book of the Year and dubbed a “modern day toddler classic” by NPR. His fourth book, Letter Town, is being turned into the Audible Original show Letter Town Detective.

Darren lives in North Carolina, with his family, his extended family and his King Charles cavalier, Leo.

Is there a book or genre that stands out in your memory from your youth?

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

What kind of reader were you as a child?

I enjoyed reading mystery books as a child. Series like The Hardy Boys, The Three Investigators and Sherlock Holmes mysteries were hard to put down. I also enjoyed reading Mad Magazine and trying to draw the famous characters I found inside.

What are three children’s books you think should be on every child’s bookshelf?

  1. Yo! Yes! by Chris Rashka;

  2. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak;

  3. and –– 10 Minutes ’till Bedtime by Peggy Rathmann… I could keep going… I have LOADS of favorites.

Book Harvest is proud to practice Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop’s theory of “Mirrors, Windows, Sliding Glass Doors,” which states that in order to become avid readers and reap the full benefits of lifelong literacy, children have to see both themselves and worlds beyond their own in the stories they read. Is there a book that you saw yourself reflected in as a child? Or one that opened new worlds for you?

The work of Dr Seuss got me excited about the world of rhymes and how words fit together. My love for Dr Seuss blossomed into a love of rap and hip hop, where I still enjoy listening to how performers build stories and emotions out of rhymes. Before I wrote children’s books, I spent a lot of time in my childhood writing hip hop rhymes and lyrics.

What kind of books are on your bookshelf?

I love discovering picture books new and old and I love finding new artists and authors who expand the graphic novel genre. I love art books featuring artists I admire. I still love reading stories that serve up exciting mysteries.

What are you reading currently?

The Lost Book of Moses, by Chanan Tigay –– This book is a non-fiction account of Chanan as he dives headlong into the mystery of what happened to an ancient manuscript that disappeared from sight, the history behind it and his efforts to track it down.

What is your favorite place to read?

My bed.

Roald Dahl, as an air attache in London in 1944 CREDIT: Photo: Bettmann/CORBIS

If you could have dinner with three authors from any period in time, who would you pick?

Roald Dahl because I love everything he wrote (and he was a British spy, so he must have great stories to share) –– and –– Dr Seuss because he loved throwing dinner parties where he gave everyone a silly hat to wear, which sounds fun –– and –– CS Lewis because I find the way he thinks fascinating and would love to pepper him with questions.

What are the children in your life currently reading?

My son is reading the Spy School series by Stuart Gibbs and re-reading the Crossover series by Kwame Alexander.

Do you have a favorite quote from literature? If so, what is it?

“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” ― Roald Dahl

We are grateful to Darren for answering our questions! You can learn more about Darren and his work at


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