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Meet the creators of You Make Me Sneeze, the second book featuring dynamic duo, Cat and Duck! In this Q&A, author Sharon G. Flake and illustrator Anna Raff answer questions about their new book.

Sharon, YOU MAKE ME SNEEZE! is your second book featuring the hilariously charming duo, Duck and Cat, who we first meet in the picture book, YOU ARE NOT A CAT! Why did you want to return to these characters, and what sparked the idea for this new story?

Sharon: Duck and Cat make me happy. When I think of them, I laugh a little. I was writing a novel about a boy in a forest when I came up with the idea for this book. Knowing Duck, he likely wanted my attention. Like most of my characters, I let him take the lead and tell me what the story was about. He did not mind at all.

Anna, your artwork style is colorful and graphic. What was your approach to illustrating YOU MAKE ME SNEEZE! and what did you enjoy most about depicting the oddly matched duo of Duck and Cat?

Anna: I suppose first I wanted to be faithful to readers’ perceptions of their friendship as established in YOU ARE NOT A CAT! And with Sharon’s wonderful text for YOU MAKE ME SNEEZE!, I was given the opportunity to show even more depth in their relationship. What I love about these two is their contrasting personalities. Cat is so serious and well-meaning, while Duck is a bit of a goofball. In portraying them visually in both books, I found myself digging back to my favorite fictional characters when I was a kid. The contrast of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck come to mind, as well as Bullwinkle and Rocky, or Ernie and Bert. What Sharon created at its core is a devoted friendship with idiosyncrasies and complications, but steadfast no matter what life brings. 

Who do you both relate to more? Duck or Cat?

Sharon: I am definitely a Duck girl.  He has a good heart and is perfectly okay showing up in the world exactly as he is—quirky, curious, clueless; a lovable, huggable friend prone to causing misunderstandings, but joyfully  helping to right things again.

Anna: Without question, Duck. Years ago, after I’d finished the first sketch dummy for YOU ARE NOT A CAT!, I showed it to my friend and fellow illustrator, Nina Frenkel for some feedback. She immediately zeroed in on the sibling-like dynamic between Duck and Cat. As a wacky, younger sister myself, I couldn’t believe I’d missed that! But she was completely right. Sadly, Nina has since passed away, but while working on the sequel, I was thankful to have her astute observation in the front of my mind. A reviewer of YOU MAKE ME SNEEZE! even picked up on it too, which really made me smile. 

Do you foresee Duck and Cat having more picture book adventures in the future?

Sharon: I would love for that to happen, so yes. The world could use more joy and laughter and these two are up to the job.

Anna: Yes, please! I think our two books have established a glimpse at a very relatable pair, and how we all navigate each other’s differences and life’s ups and downs. There’s nothing Duck and Cat can’t tackle as long as they’re together. 

Out now in paperback!

For fans of Mo Willem’s Elephant and Piggie and Pigeon series, this clever and hilarious story stars Cat, who starts out perfectly content and relaxed, and Duck, who infuriates him by meowing like a cat instead of quacking like Cat thinks he should. 

In this second book featuring Cat and Duck, our dynamic duo have a problem—Cat makes Duck sneeze! “I think—achoo!—I’m allergic to you,” Duck declares. Hilarity ensues as Cat keeps trying to solve the problem—but Duck keeps sneezing! Is Duck really allergic to Cat or is something else going on? 

Download the free coloring pages!

Watch the YOU MAKE ME SNEEZE! book trailer: