A Purr-fect Painting: Matisse’s Other Great Cat by Joan Waites

A Purr-fect Painting: Matisse’s Other Great Cat by Joan Waites. SchifferKids, 2021. 9780764361128

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Picture book

What did you like about the book?  Henri Matisse is an old man in this picture book, living in the south of France with his 3 cats: Minouche, Coussi,  and La Puce. Minoche has already found fame in The Cat With Red Fish and La Puce spends most of his time watching Henri paint and wishing that he too could be in a beautiful painting. When the artist falls ill, La Puce loyally remains at his side. After an accident with the artist’s palette, the black and white cat leaves a trail of splashes and footprints that inspire Matisse to pursue his famous second act: colorful cut paper installations that feature a stretching black cat. Waites has copied Matisse’s style and uses cut paper collage to tell her story. The shapes are simple and bright and children interested in painting and art will be able to see and identify many of the tools seen here: brushes and palette knives, stretched canvas and an easel. An author’s note provides biographical information about Matisse and explains that Waites is using her imagination to tell La Puce’s story.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I wish Waites had included an image of The Cat With Red Fish in the book and also a photograph of Matisse, possibly with his cats? I didn’t think that adding the cats to Matisse’s story added much to my understanding or appreciation of his work, although they were pretty cute.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Children ages 3-7 who are interested in art or cats. If an art teacher was including Matisse in a lesson, this book might be of interest, although I would prefer Henri’s Scissors (2013) by Jeanette Winter.

Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: September 4, 2021

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