Friday, October 17, 2008

Wanda Gag


Ray, Deborah Kogan. 2008. Wanda Gag: The Girl Who Loved To Draw.

I grew up loving Millions of Cats. It was one of my favorites and my best. I can still hear my mom reading it to me if I close my mind and think about it. There's just something magical about the story, about the art. So when I read that there was going to be a picture book biography about Wanda Gag, the author of Millions of Cats, I became very excited!!!

The book is well written. One of my favorite things about the book is the fact that it uses Gag's own words to tell the story. I won't lie and say that each and every word is taken from Gag's work--either private or previously published--but much more than I was expecting. (If I'm going to be honest. I can think of very few examples of picture book biographies where primary documents or first-hand narratives are used directly. I'm not saying that other author's don't do research. But it's not often you see this much of it clearly shown.) Gag's words appear italicized. Ray's words appear in normal font.

The book is the story of her life. It follows her from her childhood years up through the publication and success of her novel Millions of Cats.

Who is the book for? Well, I'd say it was for kids in the elementary grades. It's not a book you'd read aloud for preschool story time. While the illustrations are wonderful--such that would draw you into the book--there are simply too many words per page to hold a child's attention. But for those in grade school, it would be a good choice. (This one would pair nicely with The Boy on Fairfield Street by Kathleen Krull (the biography of Dr. Seuss) and The Road to Oz also by Kathleen Krull, which is the biography of L. Frank Baum.)

(Just so you know, Gag rhymes with jog not bag.)

This one is definitely recommended.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

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