cover image Wanda Gg: The Girl Who Lived to Draw

Wanda Gg: The Girl Who Lived to Draw

Deborah Kogan Ray, . . Viking, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-670-06292-8

Widely known for her picture book classic Millions of Cats , Gág (1893–1946) is the inspiring subject of Ray's well-conceived biography. Focusing on Gág's upbringing in a German-speaking community in Minnesota, Ray (To Go Singing Through the World ) deftly interweaves her narrative with passages from Gág's childhood diaries, vividly conjuring the passionate artist and her hunger for drawing (“I can't help it that I've got to draw and paint forever; I cannot stop, I cannot, cannot, CANNOT,” writes Gág). Illustrations loosely recall folk art in their use of frontal compositions and bold color as they depict the various settings—the old-world Bohemian atmosphere of Gág's early life and, later, the art world of New York City—with fine naturalistic and period detail. Readers will relate to the elements Ray highlights: Gág's love for fairy tales, the bustling activities of her grandparents' tiny village and the example of her artist father, whose dying words to his 15-year-old daughter drove her for the rest of her life—“What Papa couldn't do, Wanda will have to finish.” An exemplary integration of primary research in a compelling, visually exciting book. Ages 6–8. (Oct.)