We've had a new book arrive this month that I feel is worthy of a full review on the blog. If you are familiar with the work of children's author and illustrator Ruth Brown, then you will understand my excitement when I discovered this gem. We are yet to read a Ruth Brown book that we do not love.
A Gallery of Cats is a relatively new offering by Ruth Brown, published in late 2019, but only just available in paperback, hence us being a bit late to the party. For those of you who know us well, we are obsessed with cats here. In fact, I think I've only reviewed one other children's book on my blog so far and it was another about cats!
The concept for this book is simple, but oh, so clever. A little boy visits an art gallery with his grandmother and, while she is distracted, he enters an exhibition that isn't open to the public yet. A gallery of cats. He is curious and contemplative, taking his time to absorb the full exhibition, reading the labels as he works his way along the gallery wall.
The illustrations of the paintings in the gallery are wonderful, and familiar. Famous paintings by famous artists, but each with the addition of a cat. They resemble the real thing, but with a cat, who looks like it has always been there! Truly remarkable.
As the child moves from one painting to the next, he is joined by an ever growing clowder of cats (yes, I had to look that up!) It is surreal, but so charming. The illustrations of the child, and of the cats as they emerge from their paintings and move through the pages, are so beautifully observed and true to life.
13 different artists are represented, from Mondrian to Munch, Kahlo to Klimt. Each painting is accompanied by a description of the cat in the painting, it's breed, features, characteristics and personality, but with a nod to the artist featured. Vincent the cat even has part of his ear missing! This made the information presented interesting and accessible. Such a clever concept. An original and brilliant way to introduce young children to some of the most famous paintings through story. An especially appealing read for any cat lovers out there.
The story ends with the cats returning to their paintings, and Tom being reunited with his grandmother, who seems oblivious to the wonderful experience her grandson has just had.
Such a wonderful book. We wholeheartedly recommend it.
I'll be adding this title to the art section of my bookshop, which you can find here.