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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Gatsby’s Grand Adventure by Barbara Cairns is a children’s story illustrated by Eugene Ruble. It is the second book in the August Renoir series, in which a cat by the name of Gatsby leaps into the famous painting, The Apple Seller, to have an adventure. This gallery cat finds himself meeting the young ladies from the painting as well as their irksome dog, and he inadvertently spoils the content of the painting by interfering with the action within it. It is then up to Gatsby to return to the painting and set things right before it’s too late.
I find it very admirable that Gatsby’s Grand Adventure aims to educate children about great works of art, and the information page at the back of the book provides excellent links and biographical information for children to learn more about Renoir. Ruble’s illustrations are very much in the same vein as the original Renoir style, though I think some of the faces of the girls would probably be a little frightening for some of the young children that I know. Barbara Cairns’s storytelling skills are simple and highly accessible for young readers, with snappy dialogue and playful humour. I found the plot a little too far-fetched in places, for example when the gallery owner sees the painting has changed and has no significant reaction to the discovery, but I suspect that such concerns would not be raised amongst readers of the target audience. Overall, an enjoyable story that educates as well as entertains.