Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Why of 'Where's that Cat'?

Ever since the time I worked on a textless, illustrated book, I've been wanting to do a second one. That was in 1986 and the book, published by the National Book Trust, was called Visit to the City Market. That book marked an important milestone for me as an illustrator: it was the first one for which I was both the author and illustrator.

City Market
doesn't have much of a story: a mother and her two children take a walk to the market, buying things along the way – and that's all that happens. But as they go from one shop to the next, the reader gets to look at the different kinds of shops they go to, the shopkeepers they talk to and the things that they buy. As it happens, I don't like going shopping! At the same time I realize that we all need to go now and then. So my reason for drawing a visit to the market was to try to make it seem like fun. Drawing something is a bit like getting to know it very well. And when you know something well, it's easier to like it.

Twenty years later, I STILL don't like going shopping! So maybe that's the reason I still wanted to draw a similar book. This time, however, I wanted to look at the whole street, not just separate shops and I wanted to show more people than I had in the first book. Actually, at the time I was working on the drawings for City Market, that was my original plan: I had drawn the whole street and all the buildings with dozens of different activities taking place on each page. But in order to do that, I had to draw the people very small, which made it hard to see them – and harder still for me to draw and colour them. So I abandoned that earlier idea and drew the book with larger figures and just a few shops.

While preparing to draw Where's that Cat? I had an idea about a child searching for a pet cat. The reason is simple: cats are very independent minded creatures, and they DO wander away from their homes to go on short adventures. Of course we don't usually get to see where they go and what they do … but if I could show a child looking for the cat, not only would that give us a chance to look at all the places the child goes to, but we might also catch a glimpse of where the cat goes.

Right until the time I began working on this book, I had thought of the child as a little boy. Somehow, just after I had talked to Tulika about the idea for the book the little boy turned into a little girl. There is no explanation for things like that! They just happen.

Manjula Padmanabhan, Author and Artist

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating process... brings everything home and alive. I love how you have explained the process.


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