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Children's Fiction General

The Girl with the Cat

by (author) Beverley Brenna

illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan

Red Deer Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2020
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2020
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 6 to 10
  • Grade: 1 to 5


Nine-year-old Caroline Markham visits the local art gallery — and makes an extraordinary discovery. In one corner there is something even more compelling than the paintings. It's a sculpture of a girl named Nina with a cat named Sammy on her lap, sitting in a rocking chair. There is no Do Not Touch sign like on the paintings. And Caroline can actually push the chair back and forth, and pat Sammy. Then one day a sign is placed on the sculpture: Moving Soon.

It's a heart-breaker.

Here begins the inspiring story of one girl's successful fight to save Saskatoon's famous Mendel Gallery sculpture, rallying an entire city to her side, proving to all that one person can really make a difference, even against soaring odds.

This is all a true story. Caroline was a real girl. And the sculpture is still in Saskatoon today. Author Beverley Brenna worked with Caroline in Saskatoon Public Schools, and she has written the story with the endorsement of Caroline's family.

Illustrations by the inimitable Brooke Kerrigan catch the magic of this motivational story and the daring of Caroline's efforts to keep Nina and Sammy close by in her world.

About the authors

Beverley Brenna is known for her warm, funny family stories that capture the essence of childhood and champion diversity. Her awards include an international Dolly Gray Award, a Printz Honor Book Award, and a shortlisting for the 2013 Governor General’s Award. Wild Orchid, the title book in a trilogy about a young woman on the Autism Spectrum, is currently listed on CBC’s “100 Young Adult Books That Make You Proud To Be Canadian”. Bev is a professor in Curriculum Studies at the College of Education, University of Saskatchewan, where she teaches English Language Arts subject matter to preservice and inservice teachers. Much of Bev’s writing seeks to fill in gaps in the field of available books, and she considers voices rarely heard in children’s literature. Bev’s many years as a classroom and special education teacher offer her a clear picture of school landscapes, children, and childhood, and the years she spent at home co-parenting three sons continue to inspire new characters and themes.

Beverley Brenna's profile page

Brooke Kerrigan has loved to draw ever since she was a little girl. If there was a pencil nearby she couldn't resist the urge pick it up and begin to doodle, so it seemed only natural that she grow up to become an artist. Of all her creative endeavors, illustrating children's books is her favourite. Born in Toronto, she currently lives in a little town in the French Alps that inspires her every day. Brooke has illustrated six previous picture books, among them Kiss Me: I'm a Prince!, Dog Breath and Fishermen Through and Through — nominated for a Blue Spruce Award.

Brooke Kerrigan's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Brooke Kerrigan brings this picture book to life with full-page, mixed media illustrations. She thoughtfully portrays characters and objects from unique visual perspectives where their positions enhance readers' connection to the story. . . Brenna's storyline and word choice, in combination with Kerrigan's realistic illustrations, make The Girl with the Cat award-worthy. It is relatable to children, yet reminds them of an important message: they can make a difference. Friendship is another theme portrayed in this story. This charming picture book can be used as a book to read for pleasure, inspiration, or as a teaching tool at home or at school. Possible follow-up activities to reading this story include brainstorming ideas for meaningful letter writing or visiting a nearby (or virtual) museum where students can enjoy experiencing the power of art. These activities and teaching of themes may need adult prompting, or it's possible that some children may seek these out on their own.
Highly Recommended"
CM Magazine

"I love absolutely everything about this book! It is beautiful in both the story and the illustrations. What makes this book even more special—it is based on a real-life situation that happened in 1966 in Saskatoon, Canada. . . There are a couple of powerful messages going on in the story at the same time. First, this young girl starts to really see the beauty of art. When she first arrives in the museum, most of the art does not really appeal to her and she feels the paintings are just big stripes of color or dots. However, the more time she spends in the gallery telling her stories to the statue, she starts to see these paintings as other things such as the sea and boats on a warm summer day. It is as if the paintings are coming to life all around her. Another important message in this story in the power of the written word. This young girl used her words in a letter to persuade the director of the museum to keep the statue—and it worked. The best part—the back of the book shows a picture of the young girl and her brother (Caroline and Frazer Markham) and a photograph of the actual letter she wrote to the director."
Youth Services Book Review

"This Is a great lesson, that anyone can make an effort to do something positive for the world. One voice soon becomes the voice for many."
Shelf Life Magazine

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