Gatsby’s Grand Adventures: Books 1 and 2

Gatsby's book1 9781616333508_p0_v1_s260x420Gatsby’s Grand Adventures:Winslow Homer’s Snap the Whip

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?

Gatsbys 2 Book9781616333874_p0_v1_s260x420.jpg.Book 2 published 2013

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.

 

The Museum

The Museum9781419705946_p0_v1_s260x420

The Museum

Susan Verde, Author

Peter Reynolds, Illustrator

Abrams, Henry N., Inc., Mar. 12, 2013 (Release)

Suitable for Ages: 3-7

Themes:  Museums, Art Appreciation,  Creativity, Imagination

Opening“When I see a work of art, something happens in my heart.  I cannot stifle my reaction.  My body just goes into action.”

Synopsis:  A spirited girl visits a museum and is moved by the artwork she views.  Much to her delight, each painting evokes a different emotional response.  There is an unexpected encounter around every corner.  She twirls to the swirls in  Van Gogh’s Starry Night.   She strikes ballet poses, yoga postures, skips through fields of flowers and pauses to ponder Rodin’s The Thinker.  Picasso turns her mood blue and sad.  Cezanne’s apples makes her tummy rumble.  Miro’s lines and squiggles sends here into fits of giggles.  Munch’s painting evokes a shriek.   My favorite moment is when she stands before Ryman’s stark white canvas.  Puzzled and wondering if it’s a joke, she closes her eyes and imagines a beautiful creation in her own mind.  When the museum closes and it is time to leave, she comes to an important realization about the artwork.

Why I like this bookThe Museum is a creative, moving and enchanting story written in rhyme.  Debut author Susan Verde shows art as a personal and liberating experience for her inquisitive barefoot museum patron.  Peter H. Reynolds’s illustrations are lively, dramatic, whimsical, colorful and complement the narrative.  The girl dances across the pages.  A lot of teamwork went into bringing this endearing story to life.  Visit Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds at their websites.  Reynolds is the award-winning author and illustrator of The Dot, North Star and Ish.

Resources:  Both Susan and Peter hope their story inspires children to visit their local art museum and notice how art makes them feel.   Show your children pieces of famous artwork, give them a pad of  paper and encourage them to draw a picture about how a painting or sculpture makes them feel.  Check out the Educators Guide  for The Museum on Susan’s website.

Book Launch Party:  Susan Verde and Peter Reynolds will celebrate the launch of The Museum on Saturday, March 9, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at The Blue Bunny, 577 High Street, Dedham Square, Dedham, MA.   You are invited to stop by and meet them.  They will be signing the first copies of their book.

Interview Mar. 11:  On Monday, Beth Stilborn will interview Susan Verde on her blog, By Word of Beth.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.