Nick Bruel's Bad Kitty series has entertained readers of all ages. He'll share the stories behind the cantankerous cat at the featured author session on Monday, April 30, at 11:00 a.m. at the IRA Annual Convention in Chicago. Reading Today interviewed Bruel on his career, his books, and his characters' popularity with children with special needs.
Reading Today: What got you interested in writing books for children and/or young adults?
Nick Bruel: Just prior to wandering into this wonderful career I've found for myself, I was a cartoonist. I had some moderate success sending cartoons out to trade magazines around the country and abroad, and I even managed to self-syndicate a weekly comic strip for two years. I never earned enough to support myself, but I loved the work and I learned a lot. But then I found myself working in a small children's bookstore in Manhattan, and that's where I discovered how much picture books and comics shared a similar language in the way text and illustrations worked together to tell a story. I had tried previously to publish children's books, but to no avail. But while working in that bookstore, I became so saturated and educated in this wonderful literary form that I tried again. And this time it worked. My first book Boing was published in 2004, and I've never looked back.
RT: What do consider your best book to date and why?
NB: I get this question a lot, and I still don't have a satisfying answer. I don't have a favorite. I like to make the analogy of what it would be like if you asked someone who had lots of children... "Which one is your favorite child?" That person would answer... at least I hope he/she would answer... "I don't have a favorite. They are all special and unique to me for different reasons. Each gives me great joy for different reasons. Each challenges me for different reasons." And that's how I feel about my books.
RT: What can attendees at IRA Chicago expect to hear from you?
NB: I'll be talking a little about my work and about Bad Kitty herself, of course. But I thought I would use the time to explore a recent phenomenon that's been taking place… For the last two years, I've been receiving emails and letters with greater and greater frequency from parents and teachers of children with "special needs" and especially Asperger’s Syndrome from all over the country. It seems that the Bad Kitty chapter books have touched a nerve with this community. After some discussion, a possible conclusion for why this is happening may have been reached. But I'm hoping that some further discussion will take place during the presentation itself.
Find Bad Kitty games and more information on Nick Bruel's website at http://badkittybooks.squarespace.com. For more information about the 2012 IRA Annual Convention in Chicago from April 29 to May 2, visit www.iraconvention.org.
Nick Bruel Will Be There…Will You?