I suppose that this is the same with all questions. If we knew the answer, we wouldn’t ask the question. If Calabash Cat had known more about the world, he wouldn't have been so foolish. But it took a foolish question for him to gain some wisdom. The trick is to keep asking questions no matter how foolish they might seem later. You never know where your questions will lead you.
And so it is with this blog. I don’t know where the questions I have about writing and illustrating children’s books will lead me. One thing is for sure, though: they will lead me to more questions as I try to put into words what I think makes a good children’s book, what works for me.
In short, like Calabash Cat, I am on a journey.
So, I will begin with one simple statement: books are not a destination; they are a journey. Where a book takes the reader is anyone’s guess. Where it takes the author is equally unknowable.
When I wrote Calabash Cat, I did not know that the illustrations would inspire so many young artists to draw their own fantastic animals—just as the original calabash cat inspired me long after my wife and I bought it in Chad, where we were Peace Corps volunteers in the early 70s.
Here are some drawings my book inspired. I just received them from students at Cambridge Friends School in Boston, which I visited last month. Each one is a delight. Some are surprising for their creativity. My hat is off to them. To find out more about how and why I wrote Calabash Cat, and for other activities related to the book, see my website:
For other websites where "Calabash Cat" art is featured, go to
In the coming months, I hope to share other drawings done by my readers with you. I’d also like to talk about what I am working on and discuss some of my past work. I hope you will join me along the way.