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  • Ratha Tep

Interview with Brendan Wenzel, INSIDE CAT

Inside Cat is just that: an inside cat. But while the cat's life is bound by the walls of an unusual house, it's far from dull. As the cat wanders, wonders, stares, and snacks, roaming from room to room and place to place, both cat and reader discover worlds and sensations beyond what's right in front of them. And just when Inside Cat is sure it knows everything, another surprise awaits!

Max's Boat Pick:


By Brendan Wenzel

Publisher: Chronicle Books (October 12, 2021)

RT: I love that Inside Cat sees "fluffy rats" (squirrels) and "roaring flies" (helicopters). Do you have any other favorite books that play with perspective?

BW: "I was saddened to hear that Steve Jenkins passed away recently. I never had the chance to meet him but I really love his work. One of my favorites of his was Actual Size, which showcases animals or at least parts of them, at scale with beautiful illustrations. It’s an incredible book that really has a way of making its way off the page and into the room. It also makes the reader consider their relationship to others and the world around them. That’s for sure one of my favorites that plays with perspective.

You've mentioned that Quentin Blake was an inspiration behind your illustrations for Inside Cat. What are some of your favorite Quentin Blake titles?

"It's really hard to pick just one. There are a few illustrations from The Witches and The Twits that are burned in my memory, but at the end of the day I probably have to go with The BFG. There is something about that book and those images that bring up a ton of joy."

Who are some other illustrators you admire?

"This is always such a tough question because there are so many people out there with work that I adore. In regards to folks I grew up with I’d say the Provensens, Quentin Blake, Maurice Sendak, Syd Hoff, Leo Lionni, Lois Ehlert, Jerry Pinkney, Shel Silverstein.

People currently making work who I'm a huge fan of include Carson Ellis, Christian Robinson, Peter Sis, Oge Mora, Audrey Helen Weber, Lane Smith, Jon Klassen, Sophie Blackall, Sergio Ruzzier and Raul the Third. I also love the work of James Ransome, Ted Lewin, and Rudy Gutierrez, but I should probably disclose they were my teachers at Pratt. I know I’m leaving a least fifty illustrators I love off this list and it’s an awful feeling."

I love your light, deft touch with words. Who are some writers you admire?

"Thank you and great question! As far as picture book authors go, Mac Barnett is the first name that pops into my head. I love all his work, especially The Important Thing about Margaret Wise Brown which is a stunning book. Cynthia Rylant is another author who really speaks to me, but I’m admittedly a bit biased as I spent a year illustrating her book LIFE, and spent countless hours with her beautiful words."

If you have children, what did you love reading to them at age three? At age five? "I don't have children but one of my favorite books to read with my friends' kids is Our Animal Friends At Maple Hill Farm, by Alice and Martin Provensen, which was one of my favorite books when I was a kid."

What contemporary picture books do you think will be the new classics of the future?

Oof. These are really tough questions. We Are Water Protectors, by Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade, Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis, and pretty much anything by Jon Klassen.

What would be on your list of 100 best picture books of all time?

"I’m gonna go with a very safe but honest answer here - Where the Wild Things Are. It’s just a perfect book. I’ve opened it a thousand times and it never loses its magic. In the Night Kitchen is also great. I’ll get back to you on the other 98."


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