If you weren’t already aware, I am a huge CatStronauts fan. I fell in love with the series from the very beginning. Unfortunately, my oldest has always felt like he was too old for them and my youngest only just started learning to read recently. I’ve sadly had to enjoy the CatStronauts and their adventures alone – until now! Waffles and Pancake: Planetary-YUM is the first in a prequel series geared towards younger readers. That means now was the perfect time to introduce my daughter, Alex, to the CatStronauts (before they were CatStronauts).

In Planetary-YUM we meet a young Waffles and his sister Pancake. The two are enjoying a fun day at the local museum with their Cat-Dad. Young readers join them as they visit different exhibits, try out the museum cafeteria, and learn all kinds of new things! They also learn a really important lesson that young readers can take to heart about what to do when separated from your grown up in a busy place like a museum.

My favorite part of Waffles and Pancake: Planetary-YUM, of course, was that my daughter was able to read the whole book (with a little here and there). She loves comics but most of the books we have in our house are geared toward middle grade and young adult readers. Alex was super excited to have graphic novel all her own – especially one that tied into the CatStronauts books she’s seen me reading.

I was thrilled to get the chance to ask Drew Brockington some questions about his new series. Alex even got a chance to ask some, too!

Check out our interview below!

Sam Wildman: I am a big fan of the CatStronauts books and I was super excited to hear about this prequel for younger readers! My daughter and I read it together and she absolutely loved it.

What were some of the differences (or possibly challenges) in writing and illustrating this prequel series compared to the main CatStonauts books?

Drew Brockington: The biggest difference was the scope of the adventures. CatStronauts adventures are epic and usually involve something insane, like orbiting the earth in a space suit, or crash landing on mars. But Waffles and Pancake is about kittens and their kitten lives. Their adventures are much smaller when compared to the CatStronauts. But, I needed to make sure that they still felt epic! A lot of that is writing through the POV of the kittens. To a kitten, going to the museum with their dad might be the most epic thing that happens to them that week. I try to bring the same energy from a CatStronauts book into a much smaller scale kitten adventure.

SW: We LOVE Waffles. My daughter thinks his never ending appetite is hilarious. How did you decide to focus on Waffles in this spin-off as opposed to the other CatStronauts?

DB: The original pitch had kitten stories for all of the CatStronauts. After few discussions with the editor, we liked the idea of starting with Waffles. He was silly, and would translate well to a younger audience. I’m hopeful that I’ll get to tell the other kitten stories some day.

SW: My daughter and I really liked that this story was set in a museum. She loved every exhibit – except the hair balls! How did you decide which exhibits to include? When writing about Waffles and Pancake – or the CatStronauts! – how do you decide on the science facts you want to include in the story?

DB: Planetary-yum is based on a visit to our local planetarium with my 4yr olds at the time. That museum was a MN Natural History museum. It was awesome. They have a full sized mammoth and a lot of other great diorama’s. I love that Natural History Museums also include exhibits about the elements and people. It seemed like a great place to start learning about space.

I knew I wanted to focus on constellations as the “big fact” for this book, so I worked backwards from there. The different names for a meteor was something that I picked up researching the 3rd CatStronaut book. I liked that the World’s Best Scientist gets a Cameo to explain that fun fact. 

SW: Waffles having a sister named Pancake is perfect. And Neil Pawstrong is genius. How do you decide on character names (especially the punny ones)?

DB: If it’s a random character, I have a big list of 300 something real cat names that people have sent me that I choose from.

For Pancake, I wanted it to be a food item like Waffles, so it would strengthen their relationship as brother and sister. Keeping it as a breakfast food helps that family vibe even more.  I took it one step further in the next book, when you find our that Mom-cat is named Margarine!

Neil Pawstrong was fun. I wanted it to be instantly recognizable. So I though what is the cat equivalent of an Arm?  A Paw! And Neil Pawstrong was named.

SW: Something that sticks out about Waffles and Pancake is that that the kittens’ parents are divorced. That’s something we don’t always see often in kids’ books. Coming from a non-traditional family ourselves (our family came together through adoption), I thought that was awesome. Why is it important to you to include non-traditional families in your stories?

DB: There are so many definitions of what a family can be now. I wanted to show that even though your home life might be different from someone else, it’s still a family.

SW: I am excited for my daughter to have such a fun, science-related series to read while she works her way up to the CatStronauts books. What do you hope young readers can take away from this series

DB: I think a big theme in the Waffles and Pancake books are being able to have fun at any situation. There are lots of moments that could be boring to some kids, but the kittens always come at it from “What can we do to make this fun.”

SW: That’s a great message! We should all approach things a little more from the perspective of how can we make it fun.

Before we wrap things up, my daughter Alex has some questions for you, too!

Alex Wildman (Age 7): Would you want to live in a museum?

DB: It depends on the museum. I visit one museum that was made out of an old aircraft carrier! That would be really cool to live on.

AW: What is your favorite thing at the museum?

DB: I love the Dinosaurs! I love feeling small next to their giant skeletons. They were huge!

AW: I really like the stars. What’s your favorite constellation?

DB: Draco the dragon. I love the idea that there’s a HUGE dragon floating across the stars up there. And Draco is hard for me to find, so when I actually see it, I get really excited.

SW: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us about Planetary-YUM. We loved it and we can’t wait for the next book!

Title: Waffles and Pancake: Planetary-YUM
Series: Waffles and Pancake #1 (A CatStronauts Kitten Adventure)
Author: Drew Brockington
Release Date: October 26, 2021
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
Review Spoilers: Low
GoodReads Amazon BN

Title: Waffles and Pancake: Planetary-YUM
Series: Waffles and Pancake #1 (A CatStronauts Kitten Adventure)
Author: Drew Brockington
Release Date: June 7, 2022
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
GoodReads | Amazon BN

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