Book Reviews: The Power of Art, Dust and Mom

Rejoice in the power of art with Klimt and His Cat (Eerdmans, $18; all ages). Author Berenice Capatti takes the perfect point of view on popular Viennese painter Gustav Klimt … by having his favorite cat tell us about his life and art: “He says he feels called to battle the sickness, greed and unhappiness in the world through his paintings.” As we watch Klimt add golden touches to “The Kiss” and other celebrated creations, we also admire this book’s illustrator, Octavia Monaco, who envelopes us in her own imaginative swirls of elongated figures and gorgeous fabrics and colors – including an added layer of gold. Very touching.

Rejoice in the poetry of something so prosaic as dust, with Stars Beneath Your Bed: The Surprising Story of Dust (Greenwillow/HarperCollins, $15.99; ages 5 and up). “Dust from us and dirt and dinosaurs scatters light, painting the sky like fire,” according to April Pulley Sayre in her ultrasimple science book. Dust comes from the oddest places: outer space, ocean spray, a seal’s eyelash. Illustrator Ann Jonas shows us how we see dust through the afternoon light – and then how each sunset is colored by that day’s dust. Amazing.

And, of course, what better time than May to rejoice in the power of mothers with My Mom (Farrar, Straus, $15; all ages), Anthony Browne’s hearts-and-flowers tribute to a “typical” mom. She can be anything – supermom in all her complicated roles – but she’s this narrator’s mom, and she’s just “really nice.” Yay, Mom!

Kathleen Krull