Kittens in the Kitchen!

The book that almost never was

Kittens in the Kitchen

This book has an incredible behind-the-scenes story.  It almost got lost before it was even finished.  Francis Kruckvich had left his briefcase, containing all of the original sketches, in his car (with the doors locked).  He returned to his car only to see his worst nightmare come true.  The window had been smashed, and his briefcase was gone.  He filed a police report, but he was almost certain he would never see it again.  Two weeks went by.  Just as he was about to give up hope, a miracle happened!  Miles away, a woman happened to see his briefcase on the ground and looked through it.  She found his business card and gave him a call.  Mr. Kruckvich rushed to pick it up, amazed to find that nothing was missing from the briefcase!  

After kindly thanking the kind woman, he took the briefcase home and set it on a shelf in his studio.  Now too paranoid to carry his sketches, and even his briefcase, they safely sat on the shelf, locked in his studio, for the next nine years.

Finally, in 2014 Francis Kruckvich resumed work on Kittens in the Kitchen and published it in 2015.  Now he will never to leave anything on the car seat...not even sunglasses!

sample image

Leo the lion king was bored with royal life. He was tired of eating the same meals that his chef prepared for him everyday. What is a king to do? He goes fishing! He catches the biggest fish ever seen in his kingdom. He decides to hold a royal cooking contest to see who can cook the best fish. The winner will have whatever he desires. Inviting ambitious feline culinary combatants into the royal kitchen could be trouble, but Lester the laughing court jester is the only one wise enough to realize it. What will become of the king's prize fish?.

A lion that likes to fish?  Kitten chefs that like to fight, and a fat cat of a court jester make up the cast of this humorous tale of ambition, loyalty, and friendship.  Wacky characters , rhyming text, and colorful  illustrations make this book a fun read for all ages..

The work behind the work...

Here you can see how the art progresses from a black and white, pencil drawing to a full-color illustration.  The paper drawings were scanned and saved on a computer. The drawings were then resized and color was added with Adobe Photoshop.

The illustrations

Kittens fighting illustration progression

The illustrations for Kittens in the Kitchen began as a doodle during a train ride. Francis Kruckvich would carry a sketchpad everywhere he went. He kept the sketches in the briefcase that was stolen. Lucky for us, he got it back. Why kittens you ask? Everyone likes cute little kittens right? Mr. Kruckvich observed how women and children react whenever they would see a cute kitten. Would they react the same if they read a story with kittens as the main characters? How could this work? He knew it had to be cute, and it had to be funny.

He began to study images of kittens he found on the Web.  He noticed that kittens like to play and fight.  The kittens also had to have human qualities in order to make a good faerie tale.  He would sketch kittens while riding the train to, and from, work.  One day, while at work, a conversation took place about too many bosses in the workplace.  The phrase, "Too many cooks int he kitchen" came up somewhere during the conversation.  This sparked an idea in the mind of Francis Kruckvich.  That evening, while sketching kittens in his sketchbook during the ride home, it came together.  Too many cooks in the kitchen was now too many kittens in the kitchen!  Soon a storyboard developed.  .Every faerie tale has a magic kingdom.  Every kingdom needs a king.  The lion is the king of cats and the jungle.  It just made sense to have a great ;lion king in this story.

Leo, the Lion King

Leo face illustration progression

King Leo had to be a great king, but he also had to be funny.  As with the kittens, Mr. Kruckvich studied images of lions he found on the Web.  Again, the lion had to have human qualities to make him likable.  He played around with poses and facial expressions that made up Leo's character.  Leo was the perfect ruler of a kingdom of cats.  So every king must have a court jester right?

Lester the Jester

Lester illustration progression

Obviously, Lester was created to be the comic relief.  But in addition to just being funny, why not also make him the wisest cat in the land?  King Leo is too proud and vain to see that everything is not perfect in his kingdom.  Lester tries to warn him with a riddle, but he only angers Leo.  Later Leo realizes that Lester is his only friend.

Everyone knows by my chequered clothes
That I‘m the foolish kitten.
I may be a fool, but any fool but any fool knows
When there’s too many cooks in the kitchen!         Quotation mark

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