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Behind the Book: This Little Kitty

last updated 21 February 2023

Interview by Nina Fiol

Karen Obuhanych has just released her debut author-illustrated picture book, THIS LITTLE KITTY! This book is an ode to her passion for all things feline, featuring adorable cats, their many different personalities, and truly captures what it’s like to live with one of these loveable and curious creatures. Published by Random House Knopf, this book hit bookshelves on January 31st, 2023, and is now available wherever books are sold.


We asked Karen’s agent, Anne Moore Armstrong, her thoughts on This Little Kitty:

“The minute Karen joined my list, I saw her passion for all things cats, and so I knew she was destined to write a story. I’m so thrilled she was acquired by one of the best editors in children’s books, Rotem Moscovich for her debut picture book. Watch out for an adorable sequel coming as well!”

What inspired the artistic style in This Little Kitty?

Simple is best for me when it comes to style. I am definitely inspired by Eric Carle and ’50s-60’s illustration design. For This Little Kitty, all the work is initially cut paper with hand drawn pencil and charcoal elements. Final editing is done in photoshop, but I prefer to keep digital work to a minimum.


What inspired the character design?

The cat characters are all inspired by cats I know or wish I knew. Calico is blatantly modeled after my calico cat Crackers. The black cat is based off of my parent’s cat that always has those round eyes. Orange Tabby is a nod to all the orange boys I’ve met in my life. Tuxedo with one eye is inspired by a neighborhood cat that lost an ear and looked like it had been through the ringer yet was the nicest cat you’d ever meet. And lastly, the shortie with those tucked ears is one I would love to know.


What do you love most about illustrating books?

I love making an image that honors the words and adds a little extra. I love that most of my work is created for children but adults can enjoy it as well. Also I love the challenge of putting to paper what I visualize in my head.


What was your favorite part of working on This Little Kitty in particular?

This Little Kitty will always be a special book for me because it is my debute author-illustrator picture book. Also it’s my all-time favorite subject.


Obviously, you resonate with cats, how much do you love them?

Oh yes, very much so! Cats are my life! But in all seriousness, if I’m not working on another author’s book as an illustrator, I’m making cat art. And even when I’m on a book project, I will insert a cat if possible. Part of the joy of illustrating picture books is inserting bits of my life into the background. For example, in every book I illustrate starting with This Little Kitty, there is the presence of a “love bug”. He’s based off a blue cottonball with googly eyes and pipe cleaner antennae that my daughter made in preschool. We have also gone through 3 froggie balls similar to the calico in the play scene.


Is there anything specific you hope readers take away after reading This Little Kitty?

We wanted to showcase a “day in the life” of a cat household. I hope readers see the love and playfulness of having a cat (or five). Yes, they are destructive and shed fur EVERYWHERE, but I hope they feel the joy that is living with cats.

Karen is represented by Anne Moore Armstrong. To work with Karen, please get in touch with Anne here.

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