Wanda Gág: The Girl Who Lived to Draw

by Deborah Kogan Ray

Millions of Cats is considered to be the first modern picture book, and one... read more

Millions of Cats is considered to be the first modern picture book, and one still known by many children today. Deborah Kogan Ray looks at the childhood and early career of its creator, Wanda Gág, in an inspired and inspiring biography that recounts Gág’s passion for creating art from the time she was young. Growing up in New Ulm, Minnesota, she spoke German until starting school. But what set Wanda and her family apart from even their German-speaking neighbors was the high regard that art held in their home. Her father labored as a decorative artist during the week, but on Sundays he “was happy in his soul” because he could paint from his heart. Quotes from Gág’s diary express key ideas that Ray uses as a launching point to write about the artist’s life (“I simply couldn’t understand while all people didn’t draw.”), while full-page illustrations depict a scene from the narrative. Additional material at the volume’s end briefly details Gág’s career following the contract she signed for Millions of Cats, the diary she started keeping at age fifteen, and Ray’s research. (Ages 7–11)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2009

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