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Penelope Anne Cole enjoys writing children’s stories to be read aloud. “Reading to children is the best way to help them love literature.” Ms. Cole has taught and tutored at every grade level, K to 12, and community college. She also reviews children's books. When not writing or reviewing children’s books, Ms. Cole enjoys dog walking, reading, gardening, church, and choir activities. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, a member of the California Writers Club:  Fremont Area Writers, SF Peninsula Writers, and South Bay Writers, and is a Reading Therapist with Read America. Ms. Cole reviews books at

http://pennyreviews-chat.blogspot.com/

See reviews of Ms. Cole's books at

http://reviewsforpenny.blogspot.com/

Her website is www.penelopeannecole.com

Contact Ms. Cole for School Author Visits, locally in-person, or by SKYPE.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Gatsby's Grand Adventures: Book 1, Winslow Homer's Snap the Whip, by Barbara Cairns, Artwork by Eugene Ruble



Gatsby’s Grand Adventures:  Book 1, Winslow Homer’s Snap the Whip, by Barbara Cairns, with art by Eugene Ruble, is the first book in a series about famous paintings and one venturesome cat.  Gatsby is a cat with a special ability to “jump” into paintings at night in his owner Annabelle’s art galley.  You can imagine he will have a lot of adventures in new paintings.  There is a catch – Gatsby has to jump out before sunrise so everything in the painting will go back to normal.

In this first adventure, Gatsby sees the fun the boys have playing the “Snap the Whip” game in this version of Homer Winlow’s famous painting.  He jumps in for a closer look and is happily exploring.  However, he gets sidetracked by other creatures and misses the exit deadline.  When he jumps out, he has left the painting in a “mess.”  He has to go back and try to fix it the next day. 

This book series gives the illustrator, Eugene Ruble, the opportunity to combine his talent with those of some famous artists.  In this first book, his portrayal of the people shows their emotions and enjoyment of life.  His pastels contrast well with Homer Winslow’s “realism.”  We’ll see what challenges await him as the series progresses.

This book blends together humor, art history and art education, adventure, and enjoyment of life.  I especially like Barbara Cairns’ use of language to enhance the story -- and bring it to life -- such as: 

“His long tail twitched. His nose itched. His haunches hitched.  SNAP! With a tremendous leap, Gatsby landed in the soft, green grass. He rolled in it. He nibbled it. He peeked through it. The grass tickled his belly.” 

The concept of this series – fun experiences and education through art – is uplifting.  Teachers and parents will appreciate the art information and websites provided at the end of the book.  Children will enjoy each of Gatsby’s adventures in this and future paintings.  We can hardly wait for Gatsby’s next adventure when we playfully jump into the painting with him! 
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10 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Hi Jan, thanks for commenting. I like the concept -- furthering art appreciation and literature.

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  2. What a great way to introduce kids to famous paintings. Thanks, Janet Ann, for an interesting review. And congratulations to Barbara and Eugene.

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    1. Thanks, Barbara, I think this is a great idea for a book series and I wish Barbara Cairns much success.

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  3. Great review Penny. Sounds like a wonderful book for kids.

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    1. Hi Susan, thanks for your supportive comments. This is a fun book series idea - art and adventure.

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  4. This is a FANTASTIC idea. It reminds me of Little Einsteins and how they talk about artists on their adventures. (I have a 2 year old!) Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi Margo, thanks for commenting. Yes, I wish I'd thought of this concept, he he. It promises to be fun and educational.

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  5. Thanks again, Penny for a GRAND review. And I'm so glad you all like Gatsby, my goofy art gallery cat. I've written several differnt versions, even with kids lost in the painting at one point, and had a positive note posted at my desk which stated :WATCH FOR THE UPCOMING GATSBY SERIES! That was eight years ago! Finally, my dream came true. YEA, GAP!!!

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    1. Hi Barbara, Yay! We are all rooting for you and looking forward to the next book in the series.

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