Barbara Cairns, Author
Eugene Ruble, Illustrator
Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc., Fiction, 2012
Suitable for Ages: 7-12
Themes: Cat, Art gallery, Famous paintings, Mischief
Opening:”Gatsby the cat lived in Miss Annabelle’s art gallery. At night, he had the most peculiar habit. He jumped into famous paintings.”
Synopsis: In Book 1, Gatsby was an art gallery cat who loved exploring famous paintings at night. One night his long tail twitched, his nose itched and his haunches hitched as he leaped into Winslow Homer’s Snap the Whip picture. He darted between the boy’s tripping and knocking four of them down. The boys chased Gatsby and he jumped out of the painting as the sun rose. Miss Annabelle was shocked to find the boys struggling to stand. Gatsby returned repeatedly to fix the painting, but each attempt ended in another cat-astrophe. Will Gatsby restore Homer’s painting so Miss Annabelle doesn’t think she has lost her mind?
Gatsby’s Grand Adventures: Auguste Renoir’s The Apple Seller
Synopsis: Ever since Gatsby leaped into his first painting, he wanted to visit another painting. When he discovered Renoir’s Apple Seller, his tail twitched, his whiskers itched and his haunches hitched. He jumped into the painting after absent-minded Miss Annabelle had gone to bed. The girls seated with the apple seller in the painting are excited to see a cat and stroked Gatsby’s head. When Jasper the dog barked at Gatsby, he ran and climbed up a tree. The girls caught their dog and Gatsby leaped out of the painting after the sun had risen. Oops! He looked back and the painting was a mess. There would be more trips to restore this picture. Poor Miss Annabelle.
Why I like these books: Barbara Cairns books introduce children to art in a fun way. Both books combine art history and education with adventure and humor. Children who enjoy animals and art will learn about an artist’s work through the adventures of a mischievous cat named Gatsby. His name suits him well because he is one cat with personality. I am sure there will be many more Gatsby adventures in this series. Eugene Ruble’s lovely pastel paintings are lively and colorful. He captures the essence of both famous artists with his own style.
Resources: The author has provided information about Homer and Renoir in the back of the book, along with helpful websites for children. For activities check out a site Cairns suggested: Art Smarts 4 Kids. These books are a great way to introduce children to famous artwork before they visit an art gallery.
Barbara Cairns is a former K-6 school teacher, a special education teacher for the deaf, and a retired elementary school principal. You can find interesting facts about Gatsby and cats on her website.