A Sneak Peek at BEING A CAT: A TAIL OF CURIOSITY + Book Giveaway!

Hello, PBB friends! We have a special guest posting for us today — my good friend Maria Gianferrari! Thank you, Maria! Take it away! ~Andrea

Happy Spring!

Calling all ailurophiles/cat lovers—it’s an almost BEING A CAT book birthday and the cat’s out of the bag: curiosity did not kill the cat!

Are you curious about the book? Then read on! It releases from HarperCollins on April 4th

Many thanks to my dear friend and author extraordinaire, Andrea Wang, for inviting me to guest post on my favorite PB blog! It’s time for a sneak behind-the-scenes peek at our new book, once again delightfully illustrated by Pete Oswald. We’re giving away a copy to a lucky PBB reader too!

If you know me, you know I love dogs. But it’s true—I love cats too! Though probably not quite as much as our pawsome feline-loving editor, Nancy Inteli. The book is dedicated to Nancy and her trio of kitties, Jerry, Keiko and Lulu. Aren’t they sweet?

BEING A DOG was inspired by my late and very beloved rescue dog, Becca. After we lost her, I was deep in grief and unable to write for a couple of months. But when I was finally ready to write again, I wanted to celebrate the joy and love and happiness I felt in Becca’s presence, and the text flowed out. I think of the book as one of Becca’s many gifts to me, and I still miss her very much.

Although I cannot deny that it was wonderful to get a two-book deal, only BEING A DOG was written at the time of the offer, and the only thing I knew was that book two would be focused on cats. Therein lies the challenge—as a writer, you want to stay true to the spirit of the book, but it feels quite daunting to produce something worthy of succeeding it. That blank page is a tough one to stare down! 

So I did two things I love best: 1) make a list—of fun cat characteristics, and 2) research! I haven’t had a cat companion in many years, so I read multiple articles about cats, and then I read Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Daddy to learn about cat behavior. BEING A CAT is a work of informational fiction, and I wanted to ensure that the cat behavior and feline body language were described and depicted in a scientifically accurate manner. Most fun of all: I watched a ton of cat videos. Cats are cool and entertaining creatures! Though I initially began with a theme of independence, it felt like I was portraying cats in a flat and stereotypical way as aloof creatures. Once I shifted to a theme of curiosity, the text came alive, and that’s where the writing fun began. 

Like its predecessor, BEING A CAT has an interactive format, but because curiosity is its focus, I used a question and answer structure to amplify that theme. 

The book opens with this question:

And this is one of my very favorite spreads where Pete works his magic with the kid and cat main characters. Isn’t it adorable? I love how his illustrations reinforce the theme of play and curiosity too.

I am so grateful for being able to collaborate again with Pete—he infused the art with so much joy and humor!

This image just cracks me up. Do you have or know a cat that does this? They just seem to gravitate toward newly cleaned clothes, and laundry baskets, don’t they?

Cats LOVE to clean themselves, and it’s hilarious to watch them do so. I had fun using parentheticals to express how their cleaning (preen in between) just seems so random sometimes—

Like its predecessor, I wanted to have STEM-ish back matter about cat anatomy and their senses, the way their tails tell tales, and more fun feline facts! 

Pete is definitely the cat’s meow! He really made the facts come to life in his expressive and jovial illustrations.

Do you have a purr-fectly curious cat? Tell us all about them below. 

And if you don’t, who’s your favorite literary cat character?

Leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway (US only—sorry!)

If you’d like to pre/order a personalized copy of BEING A CAT, you can do so here at my local indie, The Silver Unicorn

And if you live nearby, please join me at The Silver Unicorn in Acton, MA on Saturday, April 8th at 11AM to officially welcome it into the world!

Thanks for letting me celebrate curious cats, Andrea, and thanks for stopping by, readers! Stay curious!

Maria Gianferrari is a picture book reader/writer, tea-drinker, dog-lover, and birdwatcher. Maria writes books that honor our bonds with creatures both domestic and wild, and that celebrate the wonders of the natural world around us. Curiously, though an unabashed dog lover, this is Maria’s third book featuring cats as main characters, most recently Bobcat Prowling, as well as Officer Katz and Houndini. She lives in Massachusetts with her inquisitive scientist husband. You can learn more about Maria at her website: www.mariagianferrari.com, or follow her on socials: IG: @maria_gianferrari_author; Twitter: @Gianferrari_M.

Pete Oswald is the #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator of The Couch Potato, The Cool Bean, The Good Egg, and The Bad Seed, written by JoryJohn. The bestselling duo also createdThat’s What Dinosaurs Do together. Pete’s author debut, Hike, was shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal. In addition to making picture books, he works on numerous highly successful animated franchises as a character designer, concept artist, and production designer. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three sons. Visit Pete online at www.peteoswald.com.

Andrea Wang

Andrea Wang is an acclaimed author of children’s books. Her book Watercress was awarded the Caldecott Medal, a Newbery Honor, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor. Her other books, The Many Meanings of Meilan, Magic Ramen, and The Nian Monster, have also received awards and starred reviews. Her work explores culture, creative thinking, and identity. Andrea holds an M.S. in Environmental Science and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing for Young People. She lives in Colorado with her family and pandemic pup, Tupelo.


  1. This looks purrrfect, Maria and Pete! I’m a proud cat aunt of Leo, a cat that chose my sister’s family while they were on a walk one day. He’s become my favorite cat because he purposefully incites roughhousing, casually upends everything, and knows he’s in the right place.

  2. Hi Maria, Peter, and Andrea! I’ve had cats and dogs and love both for different reasons. Like you, I lost Wile E. Coy-orgi, a rescue Corgi 2 years ago, but we promised him we’d get another rescue Corgi. Now we have Scrappy Doo.

    I love how cats move and how agile they are. I loved Officer Katz and Houndini. My grandson acted like a cat and wolf when he was younger. I’d love to win this book. It would be “meow-velous”!

  3. Debra Kempf Shumaker

    What a fun post, Maria! As you know, we’ve been cat owners for years. Our current cats are Patches and Cheddar. Patches is aloof and solitary while Cheddar needs people as much as we need him! Can’t wait to get this book!

  4. Oh my goodness, what picture book purrfection! I loved hearing about the process behind writing this adorable, yet informative book. I think Being a Cat: A Tail of Curiosity (great title, btw!) is going to be a hit!

  5. Oh yes…

    STIR – the grumpy old lady cat who runs the house 😇
    SCOTCH – the one-eyed crazy cat who destroys the house 😈

    Really can’t wait to pick this up. Thanks so much for sharing, Maria, Peter, and Andrea! It looks purrfect (sorry, had to 😑 🤭)

  6. This book looks like a lot of fun. Congratulations, Maria and Pete!

  7. Cat mama here and I LOVE it! Adorable! Congrats!

  8. Fun language, fun art—looks like a winner! I have two very sweet, very silly rescue cats who help me write every day. Thanks for the post!

  9. Who doesn’t love cats?! This books sounds wonderful! Congratulations, Maria and Pete!

  10. Hoping I can make it to Silver Unicorn to celebrate with you in person Maria!


  11. Maria, congratulations!!! I love how you honed in on the curiosity of cats. And it’s satisfaction that revives them! Pete’s pictures are so delightful capturing all the adorableness of these felines. Thirty yrs ago I adopted my first and now I couldn’t ever be without one. When our 18-yr-old cat died a few years ago, we went to the shelter to adopt a couple of kitties that same weekend. These two are the most terrified cats I’ve ever had, but bit by very tiny bit, they have come to realize this is their home, that they are safe.

    • Thanks, Vijaya! I love Pete’s joyful kitty art. I’m sorry for the loss of your previous kitty, but thank you for opening up your heart to two new ones–they are lucky to have such a devoted cat mom 🙂

  12. OMG! So many great reasons to dine into this story! The craft, the cats ( and that’s coming from a dog maniac), and the illos! Thank you!

  13. Cat lover here! I currently have two who love to lay across my laptop when I’m writing. Congratulations, Maria and Pete! I can’t wait to get this book!!

  14. Thanks so much for inviting me to guest post, Andrea! And good luck to everyone!

  15. This would be a great addition for Storytime. I love how the kids can interact with the book and be like a cat.

  16. There are too many literary cats to choose from, but Crenshaw is a recent favorite.

  17. Lovely book about cats!

  18. I have to get this book for my best friend. She owns four cats!

  19. Congratulations =) I want to read this book =)

  20. How fun! Thanks for sharing!

  21. Great post! Congrats, Maria, on this new book.

  22. So many of these illustrations remind me of my own kitty. Congratulations on another fantastic book with Pete.

  23. I really liked reading about your process, and the book looks adorable.

  24. Congrats to Maria on another wonderful book! And Pete’s illustrations are lovely,. As a cat Momma, both capture the spirit of felines purrfectly! Maria is a friend and I have followed her career and success from the beginning. Needless to say, I am so proud of her and one of her biggest fans!

  25. Fun blog post, and congratulations!

  26. What a wonderful book! The rhymes are fun! The illustrations are charming! Congratulations!

  27. danielle hammelef

    I love Maria’s books! This looks adorable and my family can all relate to cat behaviors and quirks. Congratulations, Maria, on another fun book to delight in!

  28. Thanks so much to everyone who commented here! I really appreciate it. For some reason, I can only reply to a few before I’m blocked, so I just wanted to say thank you before that happens again!

  29. Yay for cat books! I’ve had several cats over the years– Smokey (my childhood pet), Dylan and Isaac (Brothers! My first pets with my husband), and Allie (a sweet stray that our family adopted). Loved them all so much! Thanks for sharing the cat-love! And congrats on your new book! 🙂

  30. I can’t wait to read this! I have two rescue cats, Maxwell and Morris, who are brothers. We adopted them as kittens and they are turning 11 this year. I have loved cats all my life, but even in just the short excerpt you shared, I learned something I didn’t know about cats. Amazing!

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