Publishers' Preview: Picture Books and Graphic Novels: Five Questions for Cat Min

This interview originally appeared in the November/December 2022 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Picture Books and Graphic Novels, 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.

Sponsored by

Levine Querido

The Little Toymaker keeps busy at his chosen profession; his toys aren’t for children but rather for grownups…and they are magic.

1. What childhood toy do you wish you could get back?

My Sailor Moon cards. I grew up in 1990s Hong Kong, and my best friend and I had boxes and boxes organized by character. We made up our own stories about them.

2. How do you achieve those glowy colors?

When imagining the story’s setting, I thought of movies like Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle and Scorsese’s Hugo. Everything in those films had a glowy, shiny look. To give my illustrations that same feeling, I used a rainbow color palette. Having these colors blend and contrast, side by side, creates the illusion that the art is moving and shining. I also drew dozens of white sparkles around the edges of things inside the toymaker’s wooden tower, which I think adds to the effect.

3. What is “the most beautiful thing [you’ve] ever received from someone”?

In 2014, I worked at an art gallery in Hong Kong. One of the artists made a small clay sculpture of a person sleeping serenely, rolled up in a quilt with their tiny feet sticking out. I fell in love with it. Later, the artist gave it to me as a gift. It still makes me smile.

4. Name a picture book that inspires you as an artist.

Shaun Tan’s The Red Tree, about a girl experiencing great sadness, made me want to become a picture-book artist. I think picture books can help adults and children approach heavy topics in a safe and comfortable way. They can be a gentle way to open doors and start conversations.

5. Who listens to your stories?

I can talk to friends and family, but for certain stories, I turn to drawing to process complex thoughts and feelings. It calms down the storm in my head, and I can recognize what I truly think. I feel lucky to be in this moment, with more people caring about stories from unfamiliar voices. Publishers like Levine Querido are important to artists like me; I never imagined being able to share my stories. Creating something, sharing it with others, and hoping it speaks to them affirm that we’re all connected.

Sponsored by

Levine Querido

Photo courtesy of Cat Min.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton

Editor Emeritus 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 MA in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a BA from Pitzer College in 1978.

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