The Artist Who Loved Cats by Susan Schaefer Bernardo

Publishing 6 June

This is a gorgeous picture book full of colourful, bold illustrations and rhyming lyrical text.

I wanted to read this based on the cover alone- I know it goes against the Don’t Judge a Book by its cover adage but it is a lovely cover and I found myself drawn to the historical aspect of it as well.

Antoinette, travelling with her baguette, pops into Monsieur Arvieux’s Antique shop after spotting something new in the window.  She has clearly visited before and listened to the stories about the items in the shop.  It is a wonderful shop full of treasures and charms from history.  “Each thing has a past, each place has a history”, such a beautiful line from the story.  Antoinette sits down to listen to the tale of the cat statue and finds herself drawn into the history of France in the late 1800’s when artists and musicians found Paris was the place to be.  Steinlin, a superb illustrator of everyday life, is always happiest when drawing cats.  He studies fabric design to earn money but always comes back to cats.  He realises his dream when he illustrates for a popular artist magazine and over time his work becomes historically recognisable, even today.

Monsieur Arvieux is a loveable grandfather type character who takes the time to care for the items in his shop and learn of their history and story.  He clearly loves to share their stories.

I enjoyed learning more about Steinlin and I absolutely loved that it was told in rhyme and in picture book format.  It could become a wonderful series, in which we learn of other artists and musicians who came to Paris throughout history.  It is an excellent way to introduce art, artists and their lives and history to a younger generation.

I was captivated by the book from start to finish.  The illustrations are simply gorgeous, full of bright bold colours and they really bring the story to life.  Great work by Courtenay Fletcher

One to read and enjoy over and over again.

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