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Mimi's Dada Catifesto

Overview

Mimi is an artistic cat in need of a human. But for a cat like her—with the soul of an artist—only an artist will do. Mr. Dada is a human who believes that art can be anything, and that anything can be art. And for a human like him—with the soul of a Dadaist—only an artistic pet will do. Sometimes, though, it takes a while for humans to see what’s right in front of them all along. So it is a good thing that Mimi is loud and silly and surprising and bold. Mimi is a Dada cat, ...

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Overview

Mimi is an artistic cat in need of a human. But for a cat like her—with the soul of an artist—only an artist will do. Mr. Dada is a human who believes that art can be anything, and that anything can be art. And for a human like him—with the soul of a Dadaist—only an artistic pet will do. Sometimes, though, it takes a while for humans to see what’s right in front of them all along. So it is a good thing that Mimi is loud and silly and surprising and bold. Mimi is a Dada cat, through and through.

This charming story about staying true to yourself sparkles with playful prose and stunning mixed-media illustrations while introducing readers to the Dadaist art movement. Includes an author’s note, a list of books and websites, and an index.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This engaging picture book delivers a pleasurable story, dazzling artwork and a fascinating introduction to Dadaism. "For a cat with the soul of an artist, only an artist will do," states Mimi the cat...Mixed-media art bristles with the energy and dynamic compositional flair found in Jackson's illustrations for Janice Harrington's The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County (2007), and her appropriately (but only apparently) nonsensical design will have readers flipping back and forth and turning the book around as they experience the story. Outstanding backmatter provides background on Dada. Completely spectacular."—Kirkus, starred review

" Pumpkin-colored Mimi is not a cat that "comes running to whoever coos Kitty, kitty," but when she stumbles on a Dada performance, she decides she wants the artist, Mr. Dada, to be her human...Jackson pays homage to Dadaists with a richly chaotic montage of newsprint, paintings, fonts, and graphic design elements, and her text is equally adept at encapsulating the anarchic nature of the movement (an author's note offers background about Dadaism). It's a book for readers who like a challenge, but the message that "art can be anything" comes through clearly.—Publishers Weekly

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Dada is an art movement characterized by absurdity. In an attempt to explain it Mimi, a cat with the soul of an artist, writes "my story about me" as her "catifesto" rather than "manifesto." In her tale told in a wide variety of text arrangements and colors running all over some pages, Mimi tells her pigeon friend Laszlo of her delighted discovery of "her" Dada artist. But Mr. Dada is not interested in her. Desperate to find a new home, Mimi enters Mr. Dada's studio while he is away and cuts out words to write him a message. Rearranged, it persuades Mr. Dada that he has "met his equal" and Mimi has found her home. The mustached cat and messy lettering on the jacket/cover barely suggest the circus quality of the story that begins on the front end pages with bits of torn newspaper and title composed of various cut-out letters, along with Mimi's purpose in writing. The title page presents further clues about the contents, introducing Mimi and a couple of arrogant cockroaches who make side comments as the pages are turned. Then we meet other characters out of 1920s Berlin as the tale continues, with the text fighting for space with mixed media, collage, and calligraphy. At times we must turn the book around to read. Examples of Dada abound in this wild romp. On the back end pages are Jackson's ideas of what about a dozen famous Dada artists might have looked like. This great introduction to a major 20th century art movement includes added information about Dada. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1–4—Mimi, an artistic alley cat living in early-20th-century Zurich, hopes to be taken in by an artistic human. When she sees an absurd performance by "Mr. Dada," she knows she has found her match. However, Mimi must try many Dadaist approaches (sound poems, ready-made art displays, and randomly generated poetry) before the man recognizes her as a kindred spirit. Told in Mimi's voice, this playful story declares that "art can be anything." A dapper cockroach couple provide commentary and explanations, and Mimi's pigeon friend offers wry humor. The cat's quest for Mr. Dada's affection provides the story arc and structure, an important counterpoint to the nonsensical experimentation in the text and the art. Brightly colored mixed-media collage illustrations set the scene. Period news and catalog clippings juxtaposed with zany layouts that scramble art give a feel for how Dada takes the mundane and turns it on its head. Readers are invited to participate: "Mimi says, Now perform a sound poem./Yes, you./Did I hear a burp?/Thank you-that was a good poem." A detailed endnote and suggested reading/listening list encourage future exploration of the Dadaist movement. Like Dadaism itself, this book will probably inspire a wide range of responses from readers, from confusion to disdain to delight. Perfect for art-museum gift shops and art education, and an interesting addition for large general collections.—Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
Publishers Weekly
Pumpkin-colored Mimi is not a cat that “comes running to whoever coos Kitty, kitty,” but when she stumbles on a Dada performance, she decides she wants the artist, Mr. Dada, to be her human. She leaves him her own “ready-mades” (which include a hairball and false teeth), performs a caterwauling sound poem, and rips up his diary to create a Magnetic Poetry-style poem with echoes of William Carlos Williams (“I have/ spilled/ the/ peas/ that were/ in/ the/ glass/ bowl/ and which/ you were/ probably/ saving/ for dinner”). It's not until after Mr. Dada lobs the same complaints at Mimi that he himself received from a cantankerous neighbor—calling her “a stupendous nuisance. A primitive force of destruction!”—that he recognizes her kindred spirit. Jackson pays homage to Dadaists with a richly chaotic montage of newsprint, paintings, fonts, and graphic design elements, and her text is equally adept at encapsulating the anarchic nature of the movement (an author's note offers background about Dadaism). It's a book for readers who like a challenge, but the message that “art can be anything” comes through clearly. Ages 6-9. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
This engaging picture book delivers a pleasurable story, dazzling artwork and a fascinating introduction to Dadaism. "For a cat with the soul of an artist, only an artist will do," states Mimi the cat. She meets her match when she smells an "achingly familiar . . . above all . . . yummy" smell that leads her to a Dadaist artist (he has a fish balanced on his head) who declares, "Only art that doesn't look like art is art." Determined to woo him (successfully, in the end), Mimi performs a caterwauling "sound poem," exhibits her gallery of art (a hairball, a dead bug, etc.) in front of his house, makes poems of words ripped from his diary and yarn pulled from his unraveled sweater and ultimately balances a fish on her own head. Mixed-media art bristles with the energy and dynamic compositional flair found in Jackson's illustrations for Janice Harrington's The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County (2007), and her appropriately (but only apparently) nonsensical design will have readers flipping back and forth and turning the book around as they experience the story. Outstanding backmatter provides background on Dada. Completely spectacular. (Picture book. 7 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547126814
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 4/12/2010
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 510L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Shelley Jackson has written and illustrated several books for children, including The Old Woman and the Wave (DK Children, 1998) and Sophia, the Alchemist's Dog (Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books, 2002). Her most recent book, The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice Harrington (FSG, 2007), received several awards and starred reviews. Shelley's books for adults include The Melancholy of Anatomy (Anchor Books, 2002) and Half Life (HarperCollins, 2006). She is well known for her pioneering cross-genre experiments such as her groundbreaking hypertext novel, Patchwork Girl, and her ongoing Skin Project, a novella published exclusively in the form of tattoos on the skin of volunteers, one word at a time. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. To learn more, please visit her website: http://ineradicablestain.com/

Shelley Jackson has written and illustrated several books for children, including The Old Woman and the Wave (DK Children, 1998) and Sophia, the Alchemist's Dog (Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books, 2002). Her most recent book, The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice Harrington (FSG, 2007), received several awards and starred reviews. Shelley's books for adults include The Melancholy of Anatomy (Anchor Books, 2002) and Half Life (HarperCollins, 2006). She is well known for her pioneering cross-genre experiments such as her groundbreaking hypertext novel, Patchwork Girl, and her ongoing Skin Project, a novella published exclusively in the form of tattoos on the skin of volunteers, one word at a time. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. To learn more, please visit her website: http://ineradicablestain.com/

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