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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

BOOK BIRTHDAY: Grant and Tillie Go Walking by Monica Kulling

Hi guys!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.

Today, we're throwing a BOOK BIRTHDAY celebration for one of my favorite Picture Book authors. She's well known for bringing historical figures to life in ways that capture the heart and the imagination of readers of all ages...and today's newest release does not disappoint! Without further adieu, grab your party horns and don your hats, today's book of choice is...
Monica Kulling
Illustrated by
Sydney Smith
Groundwood Books

About the book...
Grant Wood believed that to be a real artist, he had to live in Paris. But once he got there, he realized that to be a great painter he needed to return to the people and places—and even animals—that he knew and loved the best.

Inspired by the life of artist Grant Wood, this is the sensitively imagined story of the great American painter and a cow named Tillie. Skillfully mixing fact with fiction, Monica Kulling’s text explores the making of an artist, while Sydney Smith’s illustrations echo Grant Wood’s own techniques. The result is a gently wise picture book that will encourage young readers and artists to trust the love that is sometimes only found close to home.

Includes an author’s note that provides biographical information about Grant Wood.


This is a story that's all about discovering that the "who" we wish to be isn't determined by where we are or our circumstances, but by what/whom we surround ourselves with and what we hold dear.

The focus here is on Mr. Grant Wood. Know the name? I didn't think so (but if you did, go you!). He's actually rather famous for a particular painting featuring a man and a woman standing rather stoically in front of a farmhouse with a pitchfork. Ring any bells? Here, let me help you out...
'American Gothic'
See? I knew you'd catch up!
Though parts of the story are embellished, it matters not to the overall edutainment value of the book. I mean, I would dearly love to believe Mr. Wood spent quality time with his number one bovine but to the extent the story takes it, it's highly unlikely (and confirmed in the author's note at book's end); it doesn't mean there isn't a grain of truth in the fiction though (again confirmed at book's end) and that's the part that makes this not only educational but a charming, heartwarming, and inspirational read as well. I always enjoy Ms. Kulling's works for that very reason. She is very adept at weaving a tale that will delight and enchant while bringing history to life for this generation.

As you read through this wonderful story, you can't help but have your eyes dance across the illustrations throughout. I love the technique used...don't ask me to name it, but it reminds me of sponge painting and the texture adds that dusty farmhand quality to the page. My favorite scene? Well now, that's a hard one to narrow but if pressed, I'd go with the reunion of Wood and Tillie after his trip abroad. You can feel the contentment, the "I'm home" vibe right from the pictured embrace.

So you see fair readers, there is much to be gained from the world of Picture Books be they fiction, non, or somewhere in between like this one. You get the delightful images to bring each scene to life while you learn about someone new or new-to-you that has a message to impart. My takeaway here? To follow your dreams, you need not run from where you've come...and sometimes home is truly where the heart should stay. Recommended read for all ages and another win from an author who knows her craft.

About the author...
Monica Kulling is the author of over forty books for children, including The Tweedles Go Electric and The Tweedles Go Online as well as the popular Great Idea series, stories of inventors. Going Up! Elisha Otis’s Trip to the Top, the fourth in the series, was a finalist for the 2013 Norma Fleck Non-Fiction Award. Monica Kulling lives in Toronto, Canada. Visit her at

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About the illustrator...
Sydney Smith was born in rural Nova Scotia, and has been drawing since an early age. Since graduating from NSCAD University, he has illustrated multiple children’s books, including the wordless picture book Sidewalk Flowers, and he has received awards for his illustrations, including the Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Excellence in Illustration. He now lives in Toronto and works in a shared studio space in Chinatown where he eats too many banh mi sandwiches and goes to the library or the Art Gallery of Ontario on his breaks.


Special thanks to author Monica Kulling and the Groundwood Books team for the copy for review. (THANKS!) For more information on this title, the author, the illustrator, the publisher, or either of their previous or forthcoming works, feel free to click through the links provided above. This title is IN STORES NOW via Groundwood Books, so be on the lookout for it on a bookstore shelf or virtual retailer of your choosing.

Until next time...happy reading!


Monica Kulling said...

Thank you so much, Gina! I really appreciate all these lovely words. Tillie thanks you too!

Lauren said...

This looks like a lovely book. Bonus points for Canadian author/illustrator!

Barbara S said...

The wonderful review helps one to appreciate the uniqueness. of this book. Though not my usual go to style it certainly is a head turner and I will check it out for sure

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