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Denys Cazet talks about Minnie and Moo (Bio below)

The first time I saw Minnie and Moo we were on our way to Grandma's in the family station wagon. Our trips take us past an old dairy farm. Cows graze untroubled and aloof.

My young sons, Alex and Jack,, like to watch for them. As we pass, my wife Donna, will declare, like clockwork, "When in a herd, all cows will face in the same direction."

I don't know why, but I always forget that this scientific dictum is on the way. I always look. Almost everyone in the car thinks this is very funny.

On this particular morning, the herd was facing one way and two cows, standing side by side, were facing the other.

"Aha!" I said. "So much for science!"

"You watch," said Donna. "When we return, they all will be facing the same direction! Those other two cows haven't realized their mistake. They're getting ready to turn around this very moment."

That afternoon we passed the dairy farm on our way home. We all looked. The herd was now facing in the opposite direction -except for the same two cows. They were standing at the top of a hill, facing the others. I swear, they were smirking.
"They must be friends," said Alex.
"What are their names?" Jack asked.
"Their names were Minnie and Moo," I said. "And they are friends. They have had a terrible argument over which way to face, but in the end their loyalty to each other, their friendship, has prevailed."

The friendship between Minnie and Moo in many ways is reflective of my own friends and our relationships. I often wonder about the serendipitous path that has brought us together. I realize that the more I try to explain friendship, to define it, the more elusive the explanation.

So…I go to the experts. I ask Minnie and Moo.

I ask Minnie: "Why do you think Moo is your friends?"

"Think!" says Minnie. "Think? I don't have to think about why Moo is my friends. I know. When she is sick, I care for her. When she lapses into melancholy, I comfort her. Why would anyone want to bother the brain with such a question when your heart already knows the answer?"

Of Moo I ask: "Why do you think Minnie is your friend?"
"Well…" answers Moo. "Friends are like melons."

"Melon?" I say.

Moo nods. "It takes a long time to find a good one," she says.

"And when you do?"

Moo smiles.

"Delicious!"

Denys Cazet
Author/Illustrator

Where were you born? I landed on Earth a smidgen before the planet Krypton exploded. Superman and I grew up together. I've lived where I landed all my life.

Did you like school? School was like being in a play without a part.

Did you go to a special college to study art? I went to many colleges and studied many different subjects. Art was not one of them.

What was your family like when you were a child? I grew up in an extended family. All my grandparents, great-aunts, and great-uncles took care of me. French was their first language. They never tired of talking, eating, arguing, laughing, or telling stories. I never tired of being with them. With the exception of my sister, I am an only child.

Did you always want to be a writer and an illustrator? No. I wanted to be a fireman, an ichthyologist, etc. . . . Even though I loved to read, I never gave much thought to who was actually writing or illustrating my favorite books. Our school didn't have a library, and we were never encouraged to read anything but our textbooks. However, every day after school, I stopped at our public library and sat on the floor and read. It was a warm and cozy place with a kindly librarian. It was my sanctuary.

When was your first book published? My first book was published in 1973. It was a drawing book for children.

Have you ever worked at other jobs besides writing and illustrating books? Yes . . . many. I've been a cook, gardener, process server, ditch digger, farmer, cable splicer, printer, teacher, and a school librarian.

How long did it take for your first book to be published?
For fifteen years I submitted stories to publishers before one said yes.

Where do you get your ideas? I shop for them. Not at the supermarket, although there might be one or two lying around there, but by listening to myself and others. I try to pay attention to the human condition and how the daily dramas, our daily encounters and experiences, our sorrows and joys, change our lives. It is not easy to pay attention. But if you want to learn to write or draw well, you will have to learn. You can start by

unplugging your television set. Television is a distraction. It wont help you to pay attention. It cannot give you what you need to write or draw well. It desensitizes you to life. Children watch television about forty hours a week. That means that if you live to be eighty years old, you will have spent more than ten years of your life, night and day, in front of a television set. Think about it.

Is writing fun? Writing is hard work. It never leaves you alone. Ideas come and go. They pester you, buzzing in your ear, anxiously looking for a place to land. The only way to stop the buzzing is to write the story. It's like building a house with different-size bricks. If you don't put the bricks together carefully, your house will not be very strong. It might fall down. I spend a lot of time rewriting my stories. I want the house to be strong. I'm very happy when I've finished a new story. After all, I am the proud mother and father of all the characters who live there. I'm happy for about a day. Then . . . buzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .

How about drawing? Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .

Where do you live? I live in the foothills of Napa Valley, in Northern California.

Do you have any children? Yes, and I have grandchildren, too. Return to Cazet page

Books by Denys Cazet from DK Ink:
Minnie and Moo Go Dancing
Minnie and Moo Go to the Moon
Minnie and Moo Go to Paris
Minnie and Moo Save the Earth

Other books by Denys Cazet:

Night Lights: 24 Poems to Sleep On – Orchard Books, 1997
Dancing – Orchard Books, 1995
Where Can Daniel Be? – Orchard Books, 1994
Nothing at All – Orchard Books, 1994
Born in the Gravy – Orchard Books, 1993
Annie, Bea, and Chi Chi Dolores, story by Donna Maurer – Orchard Books, 1993
Are There Any Questions? – Orchard Books, 1992
I'm Not Sleepy – Orchard Books, 1992
Never Spit on Your Shoes – Orchard Books, 1990
Daydreams – Orchard Books, 1990
Mother Night – Orchard Books, 1989
A Fish in His Pocket – Orchard Books, 1987

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