Gatsby’s Grand Adventures: Book 2, August Renoir’s’ The Apple Seller,’ by Barbara Cairns, artwork by Eugene Ruble, is the second book in her series about famous artists’ paintings and Gatsby, the adventurous cat. Gatsby has a special ability to “jump” into paintings at night, in the art gallery, where he lives with owner Annabelle. This is the second of many painting adventures. The problem -- Gatsby has to jump out before sunrise or everything in the painting will be changed.
In this second adventure, Gatsby sees some happy little girls sitting with the apple seller lady in Renoir’s painting. He thinks maybe they will play with him. He jumps in for a closer look and is pleased the girls are interested in him. Then, suddenly, Jasper the dog starts barking and chases Gatsby up a tree. Gatsby stays there too long and again misses his sunrise deadline. He jumps out, leaving the painting changed. So once again, he has to go back the next day to try to fix it.
The illustrator, Eugene Ruble, has another famous artist and painting to challenge him. He uses pastels to give us happy children -- laughing and playing -- enjoying a pleasant day. Check out this second book and see how well he measures up to Renoir. There will be more artistic challenges with each new book in this series.
As in the first book, this book combines humor, art history and art education, adventure, and just plain fun. I enjoy the upbeat concept of this series – happy and fun experiences plus education through art. I like Barbara Cairns’ use of language to bring her story and Gatsby’s character to life. Here’s an example:
“Gatsby jumped off the girl’s lap. The grass tickled his belly. His long whiskers flicked up and down as he tunneled through the thicket.”
As a teacher and parent, I especially appreciate the art information and websites Ms. Cairns provides at the end of each book. Children will surely enjoy curious cat Gatsby’s adventures in these famous paintings. We wonder what Gatsby’s next painting adventure will be and look forward to the trouble he will make.