My Amazing Encounter with Cathrene Valente Youngquist


This past June I was shopping and strolling through Westport, CT with my husband.  We walked into a bath and body store where were greeted by a very pretty and friendly salesperson.  Needless to say, we decided to buy a few bars of soap and shaving lotion.  After our sales lady rang up the purchases I handed her my card.  She took a look at my name, longer than one normally would and asked, "You wouldn't happen to be an illustrator would you?"

My heart skipped a beat.  Perhaps she had seen my work before, was a big fan and recognized my name.  The possibility did come to mind for a split second.  Then she said something like, "Cathrene Youngquist, who wrote the Three Billygoats Gruff and Mean Calypso Joe, is my mom.  You illustrated that right?"  I answered with a resounding squeak, "Yes!"

Well, the encounter brought me even greater delight in this astonishing coincidence!  When I worked on the book, I never had any contact with Ms. Youngquist.  Children's book publishing works this way, in that each creator works directly with the editor, not with each other, except in rare circumstances.  Apparently, Cathrene, had written a sequel to the story and this chance encounter seemed the perfect impetus in trying to get it published. 


The Billygoats Gruff and Mean Calypso Joe

That very evening, I had a chance to speak to Ms. Youngquist.  She told me about the many young audiences she has entertained by reading the Billygoats Gruff story aloud and using stuffed animal goats complete with beanie and scarf, and a stuffed Mean Calypso Joe with "seaweed hair flying" to reenact the scenes!  She then read to me the sequel, Mean Calypso Joe and the Pirates of the Caribbee, and so beautifully she told it, this time in rhyme.  I told her I'd be happy to illustrate the story and even contribute a piece to help sell it.

We talked for over a half hour on the phone.  Finally, just this past Sunday I had the pleasure of meeting her in person over lunch and a tour of my studio.  We talked about our work, she gave me valuable advice with my own manuscripts and I had the pleasure of reading several of her works that I hope to see in print one day.


Cathrene and I behind the starring characters of the book

I hope a talent like hers does not continue to go unnoticed especially since Billygoats is now out of print and going for an astounding $95-$200 a copy!  I dare you to pay dah toll and pick up a copy!  Moreover, the sequel is worth taking a look at, publishers, if you dare to take a chance on talent.