Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Cat Who Wouldn't Come Inside by Cynthia von Buhler

From Houghton Mifflin: On a cold winter day a cat appears on the porch of an old Victorian house. The girl who lives there feels sorry for the snow-covered creature and gives him warm milk. The next day she gives him tuna, and the next day a catnip mouse, and so on and so on, until eventually the porch is as cozy as the house. One day, much to her surprise, the cat finally answers her invitation inside with an invitation to her. The "house-that-Jack-built" structure and repetition of The Cat Who Wouldn't Come Inside: Based on a True Story by Cynthia von Buhler (Houghton Mifflin, September 2006) will appeal to young readers, who will also delight in following the construction of the cat's new home.

This tale of friendship and trust, of patience and love, is based on a true story. While living in Boston, in a large purple Victorian house, von Buhler befriended a stray cat, whom she named "Olympus" after the Greek mountain. She repeatedly invited him inside, but he didn't budge from the porch. So she went to the mountain, so to speak, and over the course of four years, fed him, nursed him, and built him his own (heated) purple and green house.

Creating the set for the book was a family affair—von Buhler's father adapted her childhood dollhouse (which he had built by hand); her mother sewed the curtains, and her sister, a fashion designer, created the clothing. Von Buhler created all the characters using Sculpey clay. They were baked in an oven until hardened, then decorated with paint. She created a 3D set, and everything was then photographed with a Haselblad camera using a variety of lenses and colored gel filters, creating a fantastical world of cottony snow, comfortable chairs, and hidden delights.

Committed to reaching out to her audience in non-traditional ways, von Buhler has created an art exhibit based on the sculptures and sets used for the book that also incorporates a children's cat sculpture workshop.

The exhibit opens first at CVB Space in Manhattan on Sept. 28th, and will then go on to tour children's museums nationwide. For more information, please visit www.comeinsidekitty.com, which also includes step-by-step "make a kitty" instructions, a feature on how the house and set were created, an author's blog, and more. Von Buhler is also currently producing a flash music viral video, set to her original music (including her own vocals), which will feature the book’s characters and set.

Cynthia von Buhler is an internationally known and award-winning artist. Her artwork has been displayed in galleries and museums around the world, on CD covers, and in books, magazines, and newspapers. Four illustrations from the book have already been chosen to appear in the prestigious art book American Illustration in November 2006. They Called Her Molly Pitcher by Anne Rockwell, illustrated by von Buhler (Knopf, 2002), was chosen as one of the New York Public Library's Top 100 Picture Books of the Year.

Von Buhler has rescued and placed more than twenty-five cats into loving homes, and plans to donate a portion of her royalties from the sale of this book to Pasado's Safe Haven for animals. The book also contains valuable and practical information for those who find stray cats. She currently lives in a castle on Staten Island, with a host of pets, including six doves, thirty goldfish, two rats, her husband, Russell, and, of course, seven cats.

Cynsational Notes

The Cat Who Wouldn't Come Inside official website may set a new standard in book-specific sites. Recommended to visitors with high speed Internet service, not those on dial-up.

"Kit Lit: Children's Literature For Human Kittens:" reviewed by Mercury Boo (official page) from the cat pages of my website, which are the most popular with elementary class visitors. See also Sebastian's picks, which includes photos of not only Bashi but also Leo and Blizzard.

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