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Brendan Wenzel Books In Order

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Publication Order of Picture Books

They All Saw A Cat (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
Hello Hello (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Stone Sat Still (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Inside Cat (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Brendan Wenzel is a New York based illustrator of children’s works from New York that is best known for his interest in all things scaled, feathered and furred.

During his career, he has travelled to savannas and jungles in search of interesting animals that he usually includes in his illustrated works. He has also worked with many conservationist groups to preserve wild creatures and places across the world.

Wenzel made his debut with the 2016 published “They All Saw a Cat” which would win the Caldecott Honor in 2017 and went on to become a New York Times bestseller. His work regularly appears in “The Good,” a weekly section in “McSweeney’s” and has also been exhibited internationally.

Brendan is the son of David T Wenzel who is also a notable illustrator. As for his schooling, he went to the Pratt Institute. He currently makes his home in Brooklyn where he lives with Magdalena his partner.

Brendan’s inspiration for his two bestselling works comes from travel and his interest in perspective. In 2007, Wenzel and Magdalena put their belongings in storage and left the US on a shoestring budget that ultimately landed them in Vietnam.

Upon arriving in Vietnam, he was blown away by the exciting, fascinating and beautiful people and landscapes. In so many ways, Vietnam was nothing like where he grew up as it challenged him to change his relationships with the world around him.

From the modes of transportation, language, the folklore, etiquette, landscape, flavors and fashion everything was different. Just realizing how much the world was different was a revelation that inspired his debut.
It was from his animal obsession that he became interested in perspective. He has always been interested in watching wildlife in the wild and this gave him a strong sense of perspective trying to get the perfect shot.

Brendan Wenzel was always fascinated with wildlife and the natural world while art has always been the outlet he used to explore such interests. He has said that he started making illustrations and writing short stories in the first grade and has never stopped ever since.

As a teenager, he went to art school and upon graduation he worked several jobs including being a submarine deckhand on a non operational vessel that had been made into a museum. During this time, he was still working on book dummies which helped him hone his skills and discover what stories he loved to tell.
His big break came when he created several images of some under threat species from Vietnam where he lived for a time. The images would end up on several blogs around the internet and were seen by Angela Diterlizzi.

She thought he had an interesting style and wanted to use him for a manuscript she was writing. He would end up becoming the illustrator for “Some Bugs” and this was the official launch of his career.

While he likes working on other people’s projects he wanted to tell his own stories to showcase his love for animals and the natural world. This is what he was thinking about when he wrote and illustrated “They All Saw A Cat” his debut.

“They All Saw A Cat” by Brendan Wenzel looks like a novel that is just about a cat at first glance. But dig deeper into the novel and you will find it is all about empathy, perception, art and science. What makes this work so great is that it does this with simple white backgrounds, repetition and short sentences.
The lead is a cat that walks the world navigating by its paws, ears and whiskers. As it walks, it is seen by a fox, a dog, a child, a bee, a mouse, a fish among other creatures. What is interesting is that every creature that sees the cat sees it from a very different perspective.
For dogs and mice, the cat is seen according to how they interact with it. For bats and worms the cat is seen from how it moves in the spaces in which they live. These include echolocations and ground vibrations that inform its movements.

By the end of the story, the cat becomes a hodgepodge of how each animal perceives it. When the cat sees its reflection in a pool of water it cannot comprehend what it sees.

“A Stone Sat Still” by Brendan Wenzel is a story in which the author explores perspective just like in the previous works but this time focusing on stone. The rock in question has been in existence for the longest time and all manner of animals have been using it as a landing space.
It is a place on which animals crack a shell to reveal a meal, perch or eat a meal. For some creatures, it is quite a large stone while for others it is enormous.

Again it is all about size and perspective and as we meditate on the perspectives of the different characters, the author invites us to think about the importance of the stone for the creatures. Perhaps it is a spot for contemplation or for shared joys with family.
Wenzel also writes a story with strong environmental messages in the illustrations. He asks us to consider what will remain after humanity is long gone and all that is left is the stone and other lifeless things like it.

The work leaves you pondering and contemplating the beauty of nature and how this has been impacted by humans and if it is possible to repair the damage with so little time left.

Brendan Wenzel’s “Hello Hello” is a brilliant follow up to “They All Saw A Cat.” This novel too is an exploration of how children see the world from a different perspective. It introduces a black cat and a white one before several animals follow them.

All the creatures are linked by a single trait whether it is a simple shape, color or abstract and complex associations. Every unexpected encounter is a celebration of the amazing diversity in the world and ultimately it is a story of connection.

Brendan writes rhythmic and joyous text combined with some evocative art that encourages his readers to take delight in the infinite differences in nature and also find joy in the marvelous similarities.

It is a great novel that will appeal to you readers while encouraging them to learn about protecting and advocating for the often unknown but interesting animals.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Brendan Wenzel

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