The Artist Who Loved Cats: The Inspiring Tale of Théophile – Alexandre Steinlen
A little girl in present-day France visits an antique store and is charmed by the statue of a small bronze cat. It was made by the artist Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, proprietor Monsieur Arvieux tells her, and with his black cat named Noir nearby, he relates the story of the cat-loving artist, who created the iconic Le Chat Noir cabaret posters in 19th-century Paris, among hundreds of other illustrations, sculptures, and paintings. Written by poet Susan Schaefer Bernardo (who includes a smattering of French words in the well-researched text) with her collaborator, illustrator Courtenay Fletcher, this lovely book tells Steinlen’s story in rhyme, beginning with a childhood love of drawing that led to his pursuit of life as an artist. Readers will spot Monsieur Arvieux’s enigmatic cat, Noir, in Fletcher’s handsomely rendered scenes from Steinlen’s past. The book includes the fact that his work also “protested the cruelties of war,/revealed injustice and the plight of the poor.” Encouraging creative expression (“you can make the world better with music and art,/if you keep your eyes open and follow your heart!”), the book ends with a biography of the artist and other short features, including a “portrait gallery” naming dogs and cats pictured throughout the book.
Lynne Heffley ©2019 Parents’ Choice
A freelance writer and editor for the arts and non-profit organizations, Lynne is a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, where she established the paper’s first weekly children’s arts and entertainment beat.