Emergency Kittens! by Jody Jensen Shaffer (+ GIVEAWAY)

I’m happy to report that the funny and fabulous Jody Jensen Shaffer took some time out of her schedule from saving the day to visit us at Picture Book Builders.

Jody’s here to share her latest and greatest, EMERGENCY KITTENS!, which was illustrated by Dave Mottram.

This is what Kirkus had to say about the book:

“These kitties will win hearts with a glossy-eyed glance.”—Kirkus

This is what I had to say:

“Agreed.”—Tammi Sauer

Welcome to Picture Book Builders, Jody!

Thanks for having me, Tammi! I love PBB!

What inspired you to write this book? Perhaps an emergency that required the assistance of a trio of adorable kittens?

I wish! I’d love an emergency that could be handled by fluffy kittens! Alas, this one came to me as a result of deliberate brainstorming. And by that I mean sitting at my desk staring into space. Great fun. Have you tried it?

Tell us about creating this story. Did it involve lots of brainstorming? Lots of revisions? Lots of chocolate?

Always lots of chocolate! The title came first. I love combining things that don’t go together, like kittens and emergencies! But after I had the title, I had to figure out a story to go with it. What would emergency kittens do? (Save the day, obvs.) But how? And from whom? I worked on the manuscript for about a year, getting feedback from my critique buddies and revising, before my agent sold it in January of 2018 to the perfect editor, cat-lover-extraordinaire Frances Gilbert at Doubleday/Random House. What a great day!

What was your reaction to seeing Dave Mottram’s art for the first time?

Oh my gosh! I couldn’t believe how adorable Dave’s kittens were! I was thrilled to have been paired with him. He’s such a great illustrator and all-around human, don’t you agree?

YES! 🙂 [Side note to Picture Book Builder Readers–Dave Mottram also illustrated a couple of books that I wrote–Wordy Birdy and Wordy Birdy Meets Mr. Cougarpants.]

I love that this book does a SUPER (see what I did there?) job of incorporating the rule of threes. This is my favorite spread.

First, you give us three cutie kitty characters. Then you give us their names–Mimi, Twee-Twee, and Adorbs. Then you give us their opening greetings–Meow. Meow. Hi!

Can the rule of threes be found in your other books as well?

You caught me! I’m a rule of three kinda gal. It’s such a great structure for picture books that most of mine incorporate it. The rule of three helps build tension in just the right way.

If you could offer us one piece of advice, what would it be?

Study successful picture books from the last five years, figure out what the authors did, then pick up your pencil and dig in! [Was that one piece of advice or three? You know I love threes!]

Scoop time! What’s next for you?

I’m super excited for my February 2020 biography, Who is Jackie Chan?, to release from Penguin Workshop. And I’ve got several books releasing in 2021 and 2022!


Jody Jensen Shaffer is an award-winning poet and the author of more than 70 books of fiction and nonfiction for children, including Prudence the Part-Time Cow (2017 National Book Festival selection and 2019-2020 Missouri Show Me Award finalist), A Chip Off the Old Block, It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus!, It’s a Field Trip, Busy Bus!, EMERGENCY KITTENS, Who is Jackie Chan?, and more. Jody’s poetry has been published in magazines like HighlightsLadybug, and Clubhouse Jr. Jody lives with her family in Liberty, Missouri. When she’s not writing, Jody can be found watching baseball or walking her rescue dog, Sophie.


Visit Jody at jodyjensenshaffer.com or on Twitter @jodywrites4kids.


Jody is kindly offering a copy of EMERGENCY KITTENS! For a chance to win, comment on this post and/or share the link on Twitter. Please tag Jody at @jodywrites4kids and Tammi at @SauerTammi.

Tammi Sauer

Tammi Sauer, a former teacher and library media specialist, is a full-time children's book author who presents at schools and conferences across the country. She has more than 30 published picture books and has many others on the way. Her books have received awards, earned starred reviews, made lists, been made into musicals, and been translated into many different languages. Most importantly, kids really like her books! To learn more about Tammi and her books, please visit tammisauer.com and follow her on Twitter at @SauerTammi.


  1. Hi Jodi, Nice to see you here and read about your adventure in coming up with Emergency Kittens. OMGosh, it’s too adorable and fun! Of course, I’d love to win a copy!

  2. I love this! So adorable. Congrats! And thanks for the reminder of the use of the rule of 3!

  3. This book sounds so fun! Thanks for making it.

  4. Dave and I had fun making it! Thanks, Debbie!

  5. Who doesn’t need an EMERGENCY KITTEN? I’ll take Adorbs. This looks like such fun. Ty Tammy and Jody. Hope I win.

  6. Hooray for EMERGENCY KITTENS who save the day!

    Here kitty, kitty…I have catnip!

  7. Congratulations! Who doesn’t love kittens? I can’t wait to read it. And you gave a great idea generator. Think of things that don’t go together.

  8. Exactly right interiew! So happy to see these kittens come into the world and inspire the rest of us!

  9. This interview is exactly right! So happy to see these kittens come into the world and inspire the rest of us!

  10. You had me at “Emergency Kittens,” Jodi. I cannot wait to meet this trio of super adorable kitties.

  11. Debra Kempf Shumaker

    OMG, so cute! Can’t wait to read it.

  12. Looks great. Congrts Jody.

  13. Cannot wait to see this!
    Also, I vote you two do a book together.

  14. Thank you, everyone! Ooh, Jill, I love that idea!

  15. Adorable book! This one wouldn’t stay in the library very long. Thanks for a chance to win a copy.

  16. I need EMERGENCY KITTENS right now!! How adorable. I can’t wait to have this book on my shelves!! Congratulations, Jody! Thank you, Tammi, for a great interview! (Apparently I’m having fun with exclamation points this morning!!!)

  17. My kids are going to ADORE those kittens!! Thanks Jody and Tammi

  18. I almost always have a title come to me first and when I told that to my writing group I got some very weird looks! What a relief to not be the only one, at least for one book! I’d love a copy to study.

  19. Karen Henry Clark

    Although I’m a dog person, this won my heart.

  20. I can’t wait to read this book!

  21. How fun! Thanks for sharing!

  22. Awww, those kitties are adorable. Thanks for sharing your process. And, a Jackie Chan biography?! I’m so excited for that. He’s my favorite!

  23. Great interview, and I’m excited to see this one in my own hands.
    Recently had to have some extensive eye exams that dilated the pupils ABOUT THIS LARGE- and I wondered why I didn’t look as cute as these kittens!
    Congrats on another wonderful book for kids (and the rest of us!).

  24. Cat lover here. Such adorable kittens! I would love to be rescued by them. We would snuggle for a good long time. Can’t wait to read this one! Congrats!

  25. You all are filling my heart! What a nice birthday gift! Thanks so much for your cheers. I wish I could send you each a copy!

  26. Yay, Jody. I’m so excited for you and to read this one. Congrats, my friend.

  27. Adorable! Congrats on your forthcoming books.

  28. Josie L Gawlowski

    So great! Can’t wait to see this one! I’m a fan of the three’s as well!

  29. Can’t wait to read about these Emergency Kittens. I seem to follow the three approach too.

  30. Thank goodness there are “Emergency Kittens!” to the rescue!

  31. I can’t wait to read this one! It sounds super adorable.

  32. Danielle Hammelef

    This is such a clever and adorable idea. I can’t wait to read it.

  33. Adorable book! Can’t wait to read it. Congrats on all the new books, Jody!

  34. Can’t wait to read this! It’s adorable. Congratulations!

  35. Such adorable super kitties!! I can’t wait to read about their heroic deeds!

  36. I LOVE this and my kitty-loving 7 year old son is going to flip.

  37. What a creative idea to have such cute kittens come to the rescue! Interesting to read about your writing process.

  38. I enjoyed your interview! Such a sweet idea! Of course I’d love to win a copy! Thanks for the contest! 🙂

  39. Thank you, This looks delightful.

  40. Great interview! Adorable book!

  41. Thank you, thank you, thank you, everyone! I’m rooting for each of you!

  42. Thanks for sharing Jody. What an amazing concept. Emergency Kittens! Can’t wait to read it.

  43. This looks so adorable! I enjoyed the interview and
    the reminder of the rule of 3. Thank you!

  44. I’m shocked that you don’t have an emergency story to go with this book. So it’s good to know that sitting at your desk and staring off into space also works. I love the concept and the adorable kittens. I wish I could give this book to every body who needs a little love. Congratulations!!!

  45. Thank you, Carole, Mark, and Vijaya! Fortunately, no actual emergency was required for the making of this book. 😉

  46. Janet Frenck Sheets

    Awww, I want some Emergency Kittens in my life.

  47. Oh my goodness this looks adorable!! Can’t wait to get my hands on it! Congrats and thanks for the great post.

  48. Okay, I’m going to admit something. I actually squealed (out loud) when I got my copy. And that’s after being lucky enough to get a pre-pub look at the F&Gs. That’s how much I love this book and these three kitties! Jody, you and Dave hit it out of the park! And what a fun interview, too! XO

  49. This book looks amazing! Congrats to the dynamic duo of Jody and Dave. May there be many more collaborations between you two. 🙂

  50. Thanks so much, Janet, Elizabeth, Jess, and Bridget! This was a really fun book to write, and Dave’s illustrations make the KITTENS’ story pop off the pages. I’m feeling very lucky these days!

  51. This picture book is darling! You had me at the cover.

  52. What an adorable story! My students love superheroes in all forms and this would be an instant classic. Thank you so much for all the creative stories.

  53. Congrats, Jody. This overflows with cuteness – the title, their names, and art. I can’t wait to read it.

  54. SO looking forward to reading this book! Adorbs 😀

  55. Thank you so much, ladies! I’m thrilled people other than the author and illustrator think our book is fun! 🙂

  56. Cat books are my favorite and kittens are even better!!!!

  57. What a fun interview! Great to meet Jody and hear about the fabulous kittens. And, of course, always love to see people’s pups–Sophie’s a cutie! Thanks, Tammi, and congrats to Jody!

  58. Thanks, Andrea, Mary, and Linda! Sophie has a cat buddy in the neighborhood; they’re virtually the same color and size. I’ll give Sophie a pet for you!

  59. Thank you for this! I am a cat fan and love my furbabies. This would be a great addition to our class library. Your artwork and creativity make this a cute story!

  60. Kittens who do the rescuing!! Great twist, Jody. Adding Emergency Kittens to my TBR list.

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