Join FatCat, the friendly feline, as he learns the traditional text of the Apostles’ Creed―the earliest summary of the apostles’ teaching. In The Apostles’ Creed: For All God’s Children, young readers and families will read a line from the creed along with a simple reflection to tuck into their hearts. Enjoy vibrantly illustrated scenes of Jesus’s life and search for FatCat on every page! In this interview with illustrator Natasha Kennedy, we discuss her inspiration and process for her beautiful artwork.
Lexham Press: What is FatCat? Why that name?
Natasha Kennedy: “Cat” in FatCat is short for the catechism, which is “fat” with meaning. The catechism is the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments. But “catechism” can be an intimidating word for children (and parents!), so we wanted to create something easy, fun, and memorable that represents the simplicity and depth found in the catechism. So I drew a big cat! His design was inspired by a fat cat that Todd Hains, the editor, owned named Uirrel. I drew him as a joke one time eating a ham, referencing Lexham Press—and it all took off from there.
LP: Illustrating the Apostles’ Creed must have been daunting! How did you decide what to draw?
Kennedy: We decided early on to match events from the life of Jesus with each line of the creed, which made things simpler. I chatted with Todd a lot as I approached each spread, and we discussed different Bible verses that might direct the art. Ben Myers’s book, The Apostles’ Creed: A Guide to the Ancient Catechism, inspired so much of what I drew. Todd also has this great book of Luther’s small catechism with old woodcuts illustrating the different parts of the creed using Jesus’s life. It was super hard kicking off the book with “God the Father Almighty”—the first thing I had to draw for the book was the invisible God! I used Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1, and Revelation 4 to guide the art there. The descent to hell was another tricky one, as I am well aware of controversy and confusion surrounding that line. I definitely enjoyed the challenge though, and looked to Byzantine art of Jesus pulling Adam and Eve out of Hades, with keys from Revelation 1:18, representing Jesus’s victory over Death. It made for powerful imagery.
LP: What were your inspirations for the artwork?
Kennedy: I wanted the illustrations to feel timeless and yet accessible to children. I am a big fan of Eyvind Earle, who is best known for the work he did for Disney, such as the 1959 animated Sleeping Beauty. He had a knack for capturing natural beauty while using geometric shapes and unconventional color schemes. We dreamed up the idea of marrying Eyvind’s imaginative style with the ancient feel of Byzantine iconography, and using playful movement and colors to draw in children. The subtitle for this book is “For All God’s Children,” which emphasizes that these words unite Christians over all time and space, and so I tried to reflect that in the artwork. I wanted to capture the diversity of God’s creation by showcasing both sexes, a wide range of skin colors, and a variety of ages from young to old.
LP: What is your prayer for this book?
Kennedy: Honestly, my prayer is that it would be read to children. I grew up in a branch of the evangelical church where reciting a creed just wasn’t done. I really only knew about it from a Rich Mullins song—yet, it is the foundation of my faith! Working on this series, and this book in particular, has meant our family is reciting the Apostles’ Creed together often. It has been transformative for us. My prayer is that children and parents—especially those who are unfamiliar with the creed—would learn to love these words. My prayer is that my illustrations could help God’s children all over the world connect these powerful words with their Savior who walked around on this earth just like they do.
LP: Have you used this book with your own children? How did it go?
Kennedy: It is almost impossible for me to illustrate anything without my children watching me draw over my shoulder. So yes—I definitely have used this book with my kids! At the moment their ages are 8, 7, 6, and 5 months, and they are probably the biggest FatCat fans out there (aside, perhaps, from Todd’s kids)! Every time I finish a spread, they all fight for the chance to find FatCat first, and even though they have found him a thousand times, they still get a kick out of finding him on every page in the book. I finished the book around Easter. We were in lockdown, and so as a family we read the finished book together on the iPad for Good Friday. The kids already loved the artwork and had been practicing the creed every night with Daddy, but reading the completed book was a really beautiful family event. Having tested out the artwork on my own children, taking into account much of their feedback, I think this book will do really well for families.
This interview originally appeared in the January/February 2022 issue of Bible Study Magazine.