MEET ROBERT BENDER
Author/Illustrator of A Most Unusual Lunch

from Troll Magazine, May 1997

"If five-year-olds ran publishing companies, there'd be a lot more books like Bender's"
Publishers Weekly

Taking first, the ostrich...
"I was in the mood to do something wacky and unusual, and my first thought was, 'what if you combined two different animals, like an ostrich and an elephant?' Then, 'well, why not have one of the animals eat the other to create this combined animal? Then another animal could eat that one!'"

Behind every talented illustrator...
"I drew a lot as a kid. I was fortunate that my mother always encouraged me. She was against coloring books—I had some, but she felt they inhibited my imagination, so she always kept me supplied with paper, magic markers, and crayons."

The "Starting" Artist...
"I graduated from Syracuse University in 1984. In college, a teacher had seen my portfolio and suggested I'd be good at illustrating children's books because of my imagination. It wasn't until I discovered a style wtih a more whimsical, playful quality that I could see myself illustrating for children."

Looks like a Bender...
"I really like drawing something really wacky, like A Most Unusual Lunch. I'm not the kind of illustrator who has a different style for each new book. My work is kind of a stamp...and I think it's good. I'm still relatively new and when people see my work, they know it's 'that Bender guy'."

And he didn't grow frog legs...
"The most unusual thing I ever ate? I was in a restaurant in China with a group of people and the waiter put a bowl of what we all assumed was chicken thighs in front of us. Then one of us who spoke Chinese asked what they were...we had eaten frog legs!"

The sincerest form of flattery...
"I'll get drawings from kids...either their own animal creations or a copy of a picture from the book. It's really flattering that I can turn kids on to drawing. I tell kids that if they work real hard, they can do it too. It won't seem like work if you love doing it."