Prather's Pick: The newest book in the Bad Kitty Series

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“Bad Kitty Drawn to Trouble” is the 10th book in a series of “Bad Kitty” books by author and illustrator Nick Bruel. This new book and other Bad Kitty books can be found in the children’s room at the Moffat County Library.

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Diane Prather

The author’s purpose in writing this book was to show kids how books are written. Included in the chapters is information about the elements of a story.

In Chapter One, the reader meets the author. There are even two photos of Bruel, one as a first-grader and the other as an adult. After introducing himself, Bruel shows the reader how to draw Kitty, starting with her nose. He explains what it’s like to be an illustrator of the books: “Now draw her about a billion more times and you’ll know what my job is like.”

Kitty isn’t complete without some paint. Kitty is jet black, but her eyes, nose, mouth, inner ears and the tuft of hair on her chest are colored with interesting names such as cadmium red, shaded with red earth. However, the only place that the reader sees these colors is on the cover of the book, where an artist’s hand can be seen putting the finishing touches on Kitty. The illustrations within the book are black, white, and gray.

Now that Kitty is drawn and painted, the author begins explaining how a book is written. In Chapter Two, he discusses the main character of a story, the protagonist, and the importance of the setting. Kitty is the protagonist of the story to come, and she looks very pleased with herself.

There are several possibilities for the setting. It might be the ocean (Kitty falls into the water and has to grab onto the pencil to climb out) or the jungle where she might be chased by a lion with a fierce roar. It might be the frozen north or even a graveyard where Kitty is apt to meet a zombie who has lost his foot. (The expression on Kitty’s face is hilarious.)

To explain foreshadowing, the author sneaks Terry the Turnip onto two of the pages. Terry introduces himself to the reader, but the author tells him “it isn’t time yet.” Will Terry the Turnip become a character in the book?

The author writes the book in such a way that it seems he and the reader are working hand in hand to write the story, and in the end they decide that the best setting for Kitty is her home, inside a house. After all, that’s the usual setting for her stories. But now what about the conflict?

What does Kitty like? What doesn’t she like? Kitty seems bored with all of the questions about her so she climbs into her bed and goes to sleep, a snoring sleep. Kitty likes food so the author draws a MacGuffin. This sounds like a sandwich, but it’s really a literary term for “a goal or desired object that a character in a story really wants." (This literary term and others in the book are marked with asterisks and defined in an appendix at the end of the book.)

Anyway, the author draws a MacGuffin for Kitty, a really big bowl of food. It surely brings Kitty out of her sleep. Her tail is straight up in the air, and she licks her lips. The author erases the food. Kitty is getting too fat. The author and reader decide that this will be the conflict in the story.

So the book continues in this manner. Next up is choosing an antagonist. Will it be Terry the Turnip?

Some of the pages of the book feature “Uncle Murray’s Fun Facts” where the reader can find out about the importance of using a dictionary and a thesaurus, the differences between plot and theme, and others. A cartoon-like chapter deals with the differences between inspiration and copying someone else’s work.

Nick Bruel received the CBC Children’s Book Award for two of his “Bad Kitty” books. He has also written children’s picture books.

This is a terrific book! Teachers will find it useful in teaching students about writing, Parents will enjoy reading it to their children, and kids will undoubtedly use it to write their own books.

“Bad Kitty Drawn to Trouble” is published by Roaring Press Publishers (2014). The hardcover book costs $13.99.

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