Don't Trust Cats: Life Lessons from Chip the Dog by Dev Petty and Mike Boldt

Happy Thursday! It is always a good day when Dev Petty stops by to finish my sentences. We discussed cats, dogs, Mike Boldt, Frances Gilbert, The Gift of Story, and more. I wrote the words in purple, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Dev! 

Don't Trust Cats: Life Lessons from Chip the Dog features wise advise from Chip, a dog who is maybe not so bright but ultimately sure, confident, and earnest..not an ounce of sarcasm. Chip is just happy to tell you what it's like to be a dog, to be Chip, and keep you from making his same mistakes. In this case, the questionable act of trusting Mittens, and of course eating bees.

Mike Boldt’s illustrations...As always Mike's illustrations are bright, electric, unique! They jump off the page with humor and charm. Mike has an extraordinary ability to contribute nuance and color, life, silliness, dimension into every page turn. With Mike, I can write things and just KNOW he'll figure out a way to work it out- usually to make it better!

Cats…Yes, cats. Cats! I love cats. They're equal parts elegant and ludicrous. We have two, Troy & Abed (for the Community fans out there) kittens/soon to be full grown. They are such absolute trouble makers in the best way. I feel like cats do things just because they can, which I think very much channels into Mittens in this book. He has a relationship with Chip the dog and just messes with him because he can.

Writing…I always come back to this quote by Piet Hein, mathematician, poet, architect, thinker:

'Art is solving problems that cannot be formulated before they have been solved. The shaping of the question is part of the answer.'

I guess writing is my way of solving problems I don't entirely even understand until I'm done writing a story. I don't always know exactly what I'm trying to say, it's more like I have an idea and the story, once done, tells me why I needed and wanted to write it, what was exciting about the idea in the first place. This all sounds very mercurial and supernatural but it isn't. It's just kind of a way to organize ideas that makes me think and cracks me up and hopefully does the same for readers too.

Frances Gilbert is so wicked smart it's ridiculous. She's a great writer herself and amazing editor, but I most appreciate that she's just really tapped in. She has a sense of what's going on in the world and in Kidlit. It sounds self-centered, but one of my favorite things about her is just that she “gets” me. The more I lean into whatever weird, salty kind of humor I have, the more she likes it. It gives me permission to take risks and know she'll enjoy it. I really enjoy cracking her up. She's a friend and someone I really look forward to actually meeting in person some day!

John Schu, you should have asked me what my favorite part of YOUR book, The Gift of Story, is?

I've dog eared a lot of your book (I know, I know...I'm a monster!), but I love the chapter Story as Connector. I know it was an important one for you too, as so many threads of your book lead there. It speaks to me so much because of how and why and also what I write. Humor is this strange element that can connect people despite their differences. The act of sharing stories, especially humorous ones, creates this safe space between us all where we know, for sure, because we're laughing at the same place in the text, or at the same funny illustration, that we are intrinsically connected. We may even be, right there and then, creating a story of reading something funny that we both laughed at, and we may remember it later and smile. “Remember that time we laughed together?”

I'm so grateful you wrote this book and I hope other writers read it. It is, itself, a gift.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! 

Look for Don't Trust Cats: Life Lessons from Chip the Dog on January 2, 2024. 

Chip the dog from Don’t Eat Bees is back, with more “wisdom” to share, including some hard-won life lessons about cats. From the favorite picture book comic duo of Dev Petty and Mike Boldt.

Chip has been described as very smart and also a dog. And because he’s a very good boy, he’s going to share his tips on how to live your best life, namely: Don’t trust cats. Not even the little, fluffy ones with big eyes. Nohow, no meow.

Trust the squirrel you always chase, trust grandpa (sure, he cheats at cards but he always has treats), and trust that skunk (he seems nice. What could possibly go wrong?). Do NOT trust cats, especially not Mittens.

In this fabulously funny pet story, dog AND cat lovers will enjoy seeing their own fur-friends in Chip’s earnest yet ridiculous guide to life.


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