Publishers' Preview: Fall 2021: Five Questions for Mem Fox & Mark Teague

This interview originally appeared in the September/October 2021 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Fall 2021, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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Cat Dog introduces one of each, along with a Mouse to shake things up!

1. Are you the cat or are you the dog? Or the mouse?

MF: I’m the cat, always on the lookout for fun and food and one opportunity or another…

MT: The dog, definitely. The cat at least has a lively curiosity and may even have some theory about what is going on. For the dog, like me, confusion has become a way of life.

2. Mem, is your (pleasure) reading as minimalist as your writing?

MF: Very funny! My favorite books are probably those endlessly long, brilliantly written nineteenth-century novels from England, France, and Russia, but I like to be on the cutting edge with contemporary novels, too.

3. A lot has changed over the forty years you have been writing picture books, Mem. What do you think has endured?

MF: Children still love hearing stories. The attachment of storyteller to listener is ancient and deep. The better the book, the deeper the bonding. So the trio of book-child-adult is still a magical connection. Children still love rhyme, rhythm, repetition, and interactive calling out. The hilarity, noise, silences, warmth, and all the other read-aloud blessings of picture books are barely describable to those who haven’t read to an attentive little person. Plus, let’s not forget: THE PICTURES!

4. Mark, do you have a favorite page-turn in picture-book history?

MT: I’m very partial to the page-turn sequence in Where the Wild Things Are that begins: “That very night in Max’s room a forest grew…”

5. Asking for the kids in the room: do you have any pets?

MF: Yes indeed, a frisky Schnoodle called Mitzi.

MT: I have a dog (Lulabelle) and a cat (Kitten Jr.). The cat is gray, not orange, and the couch is red, not green, and there are no mice in the room (that I know of). ­Otherwise, Cat Dog is the story of my life.

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From the September/October 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton was editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc. from 1996-2021. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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