By Lacey Vorrasi-Banis
May 12, 2020 at 11:00 AM EDT
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Loryn Brantz/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

After infusing much-needed girl power into the stagnant world of board books with her best-selling Feminist Baby series, author and illustrator Loryn Brantz is growing with her readers as she shifts into children’s picture books with Blanket: Journey to Extreme Coziness, available for pre-order now and on sale Jan. 5, 2021. Using an illustration technique that evokes the knitted softness of the title, Blanket tells the story of a child finding comfort in their blanket cocoon before metamorphosizing into something even greater.

The creator gave EW a first look at the cover, which you can see above, and discussed the book's inspiration and more in an exclusive interview. Read on below.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did the idea for this book come about?

LORYN BRANTZ: Blanket was actually a really slow, almost painful development process. I think three or four years ago I wrote down "blanket" in my notes because I wanted to write something about being safe and cozy in a blanket, but the full idea didn't come to me ’til a couple years later. I had a security blanket growing up that I was obsessed with. His name was Blankey, and I spent a lot of time playing imaginary games with it, so I took a lot of inspiration from that. But it wasn’t until I drew a comic about becoming a butterfly that I thought of it as more of a cocoon that you could metamorphosize in. That’s when I really started making headway with the book idea. I was kind of nervous because Feminist Baby was a hit, and I didn’t want to disappoint with the next book. Also, it’s kind of like my first real venture into picture books for older kids so I wanted everything to be perfect.

You successfully addressed the challenging topic of feminism for a very young audience, and now this time around you’re covering the more accessible topic of coziness for a slightly older audience. Did you find it easier or harder to write about something simpler for older children?

I guess I found it more difficult because it took me so long to write. [laughs] It was a little more complicated to write than Feminist Baby. [With] Feminist Baby, you know the real person understanding the book is the parent. Hopefully the baby picks up some things, but it’s just like a general foundation. But, with a book for an older kid they’re really gonna take a lot more away from it.

You don’t use gender pronouns in this book, and from the illustrations, all the characters seen are very gender neutral. Why did you decide to do that?

Often when I think of characters they just sort of come to me as they are. This character just came to me with no gender, and I was like, OK, so they are them. With Ko in Blanket — that’s their name that isn’t in the book but will probably come up in the rest of the series — that’s how it was. I was also happy to make it subtle. It’s not like the title is A Gender Neutral Child with a Blanket. It’s not the main focus. It’s just how it is. I feel like that’s how it should be in real life, too.

What’s your cocoon? What items give you the most comfort, provide the most coziness for you?

I’ve likened myself to a human hamster. I just kind of burrow into whatever soft materials I can find. I love a good sweater. I’m always wearing a really soft sweater around the house. And, I love cuddling with my family, my cocoon.

The idea of having a safe place like a blanket cocoon, and the concern of leaving that safety, is obviously very topical right now.

That’s actually something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I wrote the book before everything turned into a sci-fi movie. I have a one-year-old and seeing the way she acts has made me realize how important it is for babies to feel secure and loved. That sense of security and love is so important for humans to develop. Now with the pandemic going on I’ve just been trying to make sure that even if the outside world is sheer chaos, she’s still getting that safe and cozy feeling at home so she can keep developing and growing.

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