Can I Join Your Club – John Kelly & Steph Laberis

Today it’s my stop on the ‘Can I Join Your Club’ blog tour. This wonderful story from John Kelly with illustrations by Steph Laberis celebrates inclusivity and the importance of diversity and friendship. Duck wants to join a club, but everywhere he goes he is beset by problems. He can’t roar loudly enough to join Lion Club, he’s not clever enough to join Elephant Club and he definitely can’t hiss like a snake so his application to join Snake Club is denied. Feeling dejected and sad he sets up his own club which only has one critieria, ‘do you want to be in a club with me?’ A brilliant way to teach children how important it is not to exclude anyone from their friendship circle because they are different to them. Steph’s illustrations are bold and vibrant capturing perfectly the emotional rollercoaster Duck goes through as he tries to find a place where he fits in. This book would make a wonderful addition to any home or school, an absolute joy to behold.

I am delighted to share with you a special Q & A with the author of ‘Can I Join Your Club’ John Kelly. So without further ado here it is:

Can I Join Your Club? Q & A with John Kelly

Tell us what Can I Join Your Club? is about?

It’s about a duck who wants to make friends and thinks that he can do that by joining a club. Unfortunately the animals who run the clubs; lion, elephant, and snake, are very picky about who joins their particular club. To them duck isn’t enough like a lion, elephant, or snake to make the cut. In the end the dejected duck bypasses them all and forms his own club. His rules for entry are simple: “Do you want to be, in a club with me?” If the answer is “YES!”, you’re in! Duck’s club becomes very popular and, in the end, everyone wants to join; even lion, elephant, and snake.

What was the inspiration behind your book?

My books don’t ever end up where they started from. I will often begin with a completely different idea. And it’s not until quite late in the process, after lots of writing and drawing, that I realise that there’s actually a much better idea buried inside the one I began with. ‘Can I Join Your Club?’ started out being about a duck who was lost (he flew into a mountain, banged his head, and lost his memory). He couldn’t remember what kind of animal he was, so we went around asking other animals, “Am I a Lion? Elephant? Snake?” etc. The concept slowly morphed into animals having clubs, and then changed again as I realised it was opening up the issues of exclusivity and inclusivity.

Who is your favourite character in the book, apart from Duck?

Elephant. Definitely. He’s the one who’s most like me: A boring bookworm. Plus he’s funny looking and wears big glasses. I’m not as grey though and my nose is a teeny bit smaller.

If you could be in any club, what would it be?

I’m really not the kind of person who joins clubs. I’m a bit like the grumpy bear who lives deep in the forest and roars at anyone who comes close to their cave. Luckily my wife let me join her club, which is great fun. So I’m a bit less grumpy than I used to be. Though you might want to be a bit careful around the cave. But if I had to be in any club at all it would probably be ‘Dog Club’, because I love hanging around dogs.

Were you on any clubs as a child?

I think I was briefly in the cub scouts. But that’s it. I was a rubbish cub. I was in a lot of football teams when I was much much smaller though. Does that count?

What would your club motto be?

Grumpy bookworms need friends too. Just like ducks.


John Kelly

John  is an illustrator, writer and designer who has written and illustrated a variety of picture books, young fiction, graphic novels and non-fiction, He has been shortlisted twice for the Kate Greenaway prize and has helped create books for Lucasfilm and Pixar. Originally from the North East of England John now lives in South London.

You can find out more by visiting his website or follow him on Twitter @Tinckelly

Steph Laberis

Steph is an illustrator and character designer, based in San Francisco Bay area of California. She works in several fields, including publishing, TV & feature animation, toy design and licensing. Her love for art is rivalled only by her fascination with the animal kingdom. She also loves to travel, and next on her bucket list is visiting the Weihnactsmarkt in Germany!

You can find out more by visiting her website or follow her on Twitter @StephLaberis

Thank you to Beth and Little Tiger Press for sending me a copy of this fabulous book and inviting me to join the blog tour.


2 thoughts on “Can I Join Your Club – John Kelly & Steph Laberis

  1. Pingback: Blogtour: 'Five picture books that inspired me' by author / illustrator John Kelly · Story Snug

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