Review of Barbara Cairns’ Gatsby’s Grand Adventure

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I’m happy to present a recent addition to the Guardian Angel Publishing family, Barbara Cairns, whose picture book is illustrated by a familiar GAP illustrator, Eugene Ruble.

In Gatsby’s Grand Adventure we get a double helping of artistic fare. No—make that a triple helping. We have Barbara’s colorful, energetic writing, Eugene’s amusing illustrations, and Winslow Homer’s realistic, homey Americana paintings.


Barbara presents the problem right up front. “Gatsby the cat lived in Miss Annabelle’s art gallery. At night, he had the most peculiar habit. He jumped into famous paintings. When he remembered to jump out before sunrise, everything was fine. But sometimes, Gatsby forgot.”

Ut, oh. Did you see the word “WHEN”? I think we have one of those “when”s coming up.

And what more fun painting for Gatsby to jump into than Winslow Homer’s “Crack the Whip”!

In the painting, eight boys are playing crack the whip in front of a small one-room schoolhouse. Homer captures the spirit of fun and freedom of children of the 1870s (check out those clothes).

If you or your child, grandchild, or school class don’t know how to play crack the whip—you must take a look at this painting. Kids used to have hilarious fun without gadgetry—just friends.

Eugene not only had to reproduce Homer’s subjects, but add Cairns’ characters as well. And they are Gatsby the cat, his Mistress Miss Annabelle, and a mouse and a dog. He even goes inside the schoolhouse. And he does it smoothly and convincingly, integrating past and present.

Barbara’s main character, Gatsby, has a penchant for entering the paintings in the gallery. But when he enters “Crack the Whip,” he causes a minor problem. It’s funny the way one problem leads to another until Gatsby finally sets things right.

Gatsby’s now looking forward to more adventures with the new paintings set to arrive soon. But that’s another story.

This entertaining and educational book is available at Guardian Angel Publishing bookstore and other fine book stores .

My review copy was provided by the author. I enjoyed reading it and reviewing it.

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19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tinamcho
    Feb 08, 2013 @ 01:23:59

    Great review, Barbara! That’s a creative story idea, having a cat jump into a famous painting! I’ve never heard of crack the whip, and so I learned something new!


  2. Penelope Anne Cole
    Feb 08, 2013 @ 01:40:53

    Hi Barbara, what a good review! I wish Barbara Cairns every success.


  3. Nancy Stewart
    Feb 08, 2013 @ 07:02:21

    Terrific review, as always, Barbara. Best of luck with the lovely new book.


  4. evelynchristensen
    Feb 08, 2013 @ 18:41:24

    Sounds like a delightful story, Barbara. I love art, and a cat that jumps into famous pieces of art is a clever idea. Homer’s work is perfect for the setting. I remember having fun playing crack the whip as a kid. (My guess is that, like red rover, protective adults these days wouldn’t encourage kids to play it, because you can sometimes get hurt with it. Kids used to think the fun was worth the risk.)


  5. Laura S.
    Feb 08, 2013 @ 19:04:45

    What a cute premise!


  6. diane kress hower
    Feb 10, 2013 @ 09:13:05

    What a clever idea. As an art educator, I can see this a a wonderful way to engage younger children in learning about art and art history. It reminds me of The Girl with the Watering Can. I like the idea of a gallery cat entering the paintings. Thanks for sharing.


  7. Barbara Cairns
    Feb 10, 2013 @ 10:17:17

    Thanks you again, Barbara, for your excellent review and to everyone for their encouraging comments. My husband surprised me with a huge stuffed cat who went with me yesterday for our first book signing together. “Gatsby” even has his own little rug to sit on beside my table. Kids loved it!


  8. barbarabockman
    Feb 10, 2013 @ 23:59:23

    Barbara, I’m glad you like my review. That’s a clever idea to have a “real” Gatsby.


  9. Nancy Stewart
    Feb 24, 2013 @ 20:11:21

    Excellent review, Barbara. I certainly enjoyed reading it!


  10. Barbara Cairns
    Feb 25, 2013 @ 09:59:43

    You are the greatest ANGELS! I’m so tickled to be a member of this supportive group of authors. I so appreciate your taking the time to review my book, Barbara and also for putting it on Amazon. KUDOs to both you and Penny for your thoughtful comments.


  11. Janet Ann Collins
    Feb 25, 2013 @ 15:56:39

    What a creative concept for a book!


  12. barbarabockman
    Feb 25, 2013 @ 17:19:42

    I agree with you Janet Ann; and there’s just no end to the number of books Barbara can write with this concept.

    Barbara, we are tickled that you are now and Angel, too.


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