Inside Cat Brendan Wenzel

Hello, Brendan Wenzel! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read. I’m extremely happy you’re here to celebrate Inside Cat. I have read it multiple times over the past few days. The biggest smile was plastered on my face the entire time. I love the rhythm and pacing of the text and seeing the world from Inside Cat’s perspective. I won’t spoil anything, but the illustration on the copyright page is AMAZING, AMAZING, AMAZING! Wow!!

Brendan Wenzel: Thank you for the very kind words Mr. Schu! This project has been a great pleasure to work on and I could not be more thrilled to finally be able to share it with readers. Inside Cat is a book about a cat piecing together its story of the world through snippets of information gathered out the windows of the building it calls home. The book explores how emotion and experience shape our point of view and the story we tell ourselves.

If you were booktalking Inside Cat to elementary school teacher-librarians, what would you share with them?

Brendan Wenzel: One of the great joys of making books is the opportunity to talk with young readers and the chance to ask “what do you think is going on here?” There are two aspects of Inside Cat that I think may make the discussion around this book particularly enjoyable. Firstly, the apartment building in Inside Cat was designed to be both extremely layered and at the same time a bit vague and strange. I cannot wait to hear first and second graders share their thoughts on the building I have spent so many months exploring. The second aspect of the book, that I’m guessing will make these discussions fun, is that so much of the story occurs just out of frame. It will be great to listen to young readers build their own picture of the world outside Inside Cat’s window. Especially before they reach the ending, which I will keep to myself for now.

What materials did you use to create Inside Cat’s art?

Brendal Wenzel: Like my past books Inside Cat was rendered in pretty much every material imaginable; watercolor, acrylic, pencil, crayon, cut-paper and more.This book provided the interesting challenge of creating a clear distinction between the main character, the structure of the building and the vibrant world outside. As the windows needed to be a point of focus for both Inside Cat and the reader, I decided to render them, in bright bold color, using mostly paint and cut paper. The cat itself was created with loose brush strokes. This felt right as the main character needed to feel solid and certain in places, but also become frenetic and unresolved at other points in the story. This also made the cat stylistically distinct enough that it would remain separate from the scenes it gazed upon. The third element of Inside Cat is the building in which the cat lives. I liked the idea of this space feeling incredibly layered and complex, but also remaining entirely in the background. My hope is that even after multiple read the book will continue to invite further exploration and hold new surprises. I tried many different approaches before zeroing in on the faint blue brush strokes that outlines the interior world of Inside Cat. This also made the building feel a bit like a blueprint, which felt appropriate.

Please finish the following sentence starters: 

Inside Cat’s house is a space that I have spent many hours exploring. It has changed a lot since I started work on this book. It is also home to at least one mouse.

Cats are a group of animals that I continue to be fascinated by. Even when they are far from my conscious thought and the pages of anything I’m reading, felines- both wild and domestic- end up wandering through my yard or popping up in dreams. They are charming and unsettling creatures.

Picture books give both authors and readers the chance to engage in a truly unique way. I’m very excited to see how new voices and ideas expand the form in the coming years.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me…What’s that you say? You’d like me to share three lesser known/threatened wild cat species well worth a google. If you insist! I would highly recommend checking out the Kodkod, the Iberian Lynx and the Fishing Cat. All three will make your day and are in need of a helping hand from us humans.

Thank you, Brendan! 

Brendan Wenzel is a New York Times bestselling author and illustrator. He has written and illustrated several books for children, including A Stone Sat Still and They All Saw a Cat, which was the recipient of a Caldecott Honor. He is also a proud collaborator with many groups working to protect and conserve wild places and creatures. He lives in upstate New York.

Look for Inside Cat on October 12, 2021. 


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