16 August 2007

Art Appreciation

More cats at bedtime! Meredith Hooper and Bee Willey's Celebrity Cat tells the tale of Fellissima, an artistic cat who is distressed by the lack of feline recognition in great art. To her, Van Gogh's Chair is incomplete without a cat curled up in it's wicker seat. And the mystery of Velazquez's picture puzzle The Family of Philip IV is obvious--they are looking at a cat. After gaining fame by introducing the missing cats to the world's masterpieces, Fellissima tires of the celebrity life and through her desire for anonymity realises the mystery of the missing cats--they were there, in their artists' lives but simply chose not to be in the paintings. Because choice is a cat's birthright.

It's a cute story, and a nice way to introduce young readers to some of the world's masterpieces. The art and picture book worlds have merged before. How could they not? Here are some of my favorites:

1) Pablo the artist (Kitamura, Satoshi)
Pablo the elephant is suffering terrible artist's block, which is particularly ill-timed because there is a big art exhibit coming up, and he wants to participate. This is a great way to show children that art of any kind is not created in a void, and is often a collaborative effort.

2) The Incredible painting of Felix Clousseau (Agee, John)
To call Felix Clousseau's canvases life-like is an understatement! Even though his living paintings wreak havoc, they eventually set things to right in this imaginative and visually stimulating story.

3) When Pigasso met Mootise (Laden, Nina)
Based loosely on the real life relationship--and rivalry--of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, this is a playful tip of the hat to differing artistic philosophies.

4) You can't take a balloon to the Museum of Fine Arts (Weitzeman, Jacqueline Preiss)
This wordless picture book starts at the MFA then takes the reader all over Boston. Along the way readers catch art masterpieces and New England luminaries. Previous balloons have visited the National Gallery in Washington D.C. and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. But of course I'm partial to this one!

5) Katie's Sunday afternoon (Mayhew, James)
James Mayhew's Katie was interacting with paintings long before Fellissima. This is my favorite of the series because here she takes a dip with Georges Seurat's Bathers at Asniers. I spent a lot of time admiring that painting, hanging in the National Gallery, when I lived in London. It's a sentimental favorite and so receives this guru's seal of approval.

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