The Big Idea: Drew Brockington
Cartoon cats! And science! I mean, that sells me on Waffles and Pancake – Planetary-Yum right there. But author/illustrator Drew Brockington is here to tell us more about how a childhood love of space travel has led him to catstronauts, and the kittens who look up to them.
When I was a kid, it seemed like everyone wanted to grow up to be a professional athlete, a movie star, or an astronaut. I was in the astronaut group.
I remember skipping 2nd grade recess with a few other kids to watch Discovery launch on a tiny tv strapped to a roll cart in the school library. When the shuttle launch was delayed, some of the kids felt like they had wasted a recess, but I was right back in there the next day to see the liftoff. I wanted to transfer that same energy and obsession that 7-year-old me had for space into the kittens when I started working on Waffles and Pancake.
The Waffles and Pancake series follows the kittens as they discover their love for science, flight, and space. Because, technically, it’s a prequel to my CatStronauts series, I get to continue my “Love Letter to NASA” vibe that I set up with the original team of Cat Astronauts. But with these kittens, I get to explore it through the wide-eyed lens of a kid who, when asked what they want to be when they grow up, stammers out immediately, “Astronaut!”
One of the hardest things to capture in the books is the moment when the kid brain puts it all together. At that age, I would absorb information like a sponge and process it later, on my own time. I remember spending all day at the museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, seeing what seemed like 1000 exhibits, and the main thought in my head was, “What am I going to get from the gift shop?” Somewhere on the long drive home I would realize that the Mercury Space Capsule I saw actually went into space and how cool that was. It’s these Ah-ha moments that help shape who we are and what we love. Sometimes they happen quietly, like with me on drive home from the museum, and sometimes you witness something so awesome that all you can say is, “whoa.”
In Waffles and Pancake, these Ah-ha moments are sprinkled throughout day-in-the-life stories that follow the kittens from one experience to the next. I’m not sure if every kid still has the dream of becoming an Astronaut when they grow up, but I do know that watching a rocket launch is still very cool. I like the idea that a kid reading these stories sees how much the kittens like space and rockets and thinks, “Space is cool.”