Instructor Stories: Ben Clanton


Ben Clanton is our October mini-class instructor, and I'm already hearing from students who are saying his “Creating Characters” class is just what they needed. 

Hurray for happy feedback!

I got to meet Ben at the SCBWI conference in Los Angeles last summer, and he really is as kind and funny as he appears to be. In addition to being the kind of person you'd want to be BFFs with in real life, Ben is the award-winning author/illustrator of the bestselling Narwhal and Jelly series. He's also written and/or illustrated quite a few picture books. 

I love that Ben comes at his work from a place of experimentation and discovery. It's worth making the story that you love, even if it doesn't end up selling. I found the following video of one of his experimental picture books, and the ending made me literally laugh out loud, so I'm sharing. We can all use a bit more laughter in our lives right now. 

Creating Characters

Do you remember your favorite characters from your childhood? What made you want to be friends with them? What made them memorable?

Creating amazing characters isn't easy, but it could be easier with a little help from Ben Clanton. Ben shares exercises, drawing warm-ups, and questions to ask your character that will make the blank page a little less daunting. 

It's highly probable that you'll have fun in this class.

Best of all, it's on sale until Thursday for only $19.99. There will be a live workshop on October 24 at noon, PST, where Ben will review some character submissions from students and answer questions. 

Ben Clanton's Books

Ben has a lot of great children's books, so I'm just going to share some of them. More than one of his character stories have turned into series because readers have loved his characters so much. 

(Hmm. I just had an idea for a mini-class. Let me know in the comments if you'd like to take a mini-class on writing a series for young readers.)

Narwhal and Jelly has been Ben's most popular series so far. The characters are adorable and funny. It looks like there are two board books and five books early chapter books (the original format. Here is the most recent:

Book Giveaway Details

I will be giving away a copy of one of Ben Clanton's books. Any book written and/or illustrated by Ben Clanton is an option. To enter, just comment on this post with the book you'd like to win. You don't have to be a student or buy anything to enter. The winner will also receive this adorable Narwhal and Jelly finger puppet set.

If you're outside the United States, just choose a book carried by Book Depository.

For additional entries, you can share the post on social media and post a link to where you’ve shared in the comments (preferably as a comment to your original comment so that all of your entries are grouped together).

I’ll close the contest at midnight, Pacific Time, on October 17. Thanks for reading and sharing!

Blog Contributors

Instructor Photo: Myrna Foster

Myrna Foster writes and edits content for Storyteller Academy and the WriteRiders Newsletter for SCBWI Nevada. She has spent a lot of time teaching and coaching children, including five years as a preschool teacher. She's also worked as a journalist, and Highlights High Five has published six of her poems. 

Arree Chung is an author/illustrator and the founder of Storyteller Academy. Arree’s Ninja! series has received starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal. Kirkus also gave a starred review to Mixed, which recently won the FCGB award. 

Today Arree lives a creative life, making stories for children. Arree spends most of his time making picture books, writing middle grade novels, and sharing his love for art, design, and storytelling with kids and dreamers everywhere.

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58 thoughts on “Instructor Stories: Ben Clanton”

    1. Curious Encounters! What fun looking characters! But who wouldn’t also love Narwhal PB &J! I am registered and looking forward to the live workshop! Thank you!

  1. What fun!
    This was such an encouraging post.
    I’ll bet the class is just as delightful.
    Thanks for offering it!

  2. Oh, my! I love Ben’s books. I’m loving the class. Things Happen in the desert hysterical! I think I would choose It Came in the Mail if I won.
    Yes, I would like to learn about writing a series, and about writing and illustrating graphic novels such as Narwhal and Jelly

  3. Excited for this class, thank you. I love the mood and buoyant optimism of the narwhal and jelly books. Would love any of them!

  4. Shannon Kachline

    I would love Narwhal and Jelly- Unicorn of the Sea! I would be very interested in taking a mini-class on writing a series for young readers. Thanks for the chance!

  5. I would be happy with any of Ben’s books, but I’d love a copy of Narwhal and Jelly….and YES to the writing series for young readers workshop idea!!! Brilliant and fun blog post, as usual! Thank you!

  6. My boys absolutely love all the Narwhal and Jelly books. I would love to win the new one, Happy Narwhalidays. We just got it out from the library today and read part of it tonight before bed!

  7. A mini-class on writing a series would be wonderful! Great idea! And if I won I’d love a copy of It Came in The Mail. Thanks for all you do!

  8. i find those finger puppets so adorable can see this with the story on peanut butter and jelly going well with my younger students I work with

  9. I would LOVE to see a class on creating a series for young readers! Seriously, SIGN ME UP!!!

    And, in regard to the book giveaway, I would love to go to my mailbox and find “It Came In The Mail!” See what I did there? Just trying to stand out and just maybe win the giveaway!!!!

    Make it a great day!

  10. Curious Encounters looks so exciting with all those interesting animals! I’d love to win it for my 4 grandkids. Thanks for the chance!

  11. Kristi Bartholomew

    I just picked up Narwhal and Jelly! Adorable!

    I would love to receive It Came in the Mail, Myrna!

    And YES: totally interested in a mini class geared at creating a series!

  12. Love Ben’s class! And his books! And I would love a mini-class about writing a series, Myrna. If I win the drawing, I would like a copy of his new book, Happy Narwhalidays. Thank you Ben, Myrna, and SA!

  13. Nazanin Razavian

    I always thought that picture book characters have to be sophisticated and realistic. Now I see simple characters work better with kids.

  14. Charlene McNamara

    I would love to take a class from Ben as well as would be grateful to be a recipient of either “It Came In The Mail” or “Strange Things Happen In The Desert “! Ben has a remarkable sense of humor that would bring out the “kid” in anyone, even in someone like….Meeee!

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