Grade 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
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*Starred Review* Children (and many adults) won't know much about the artistic movement Dada, but that's all right, because all (well, perhaps not all) becomes clear through Jackson's zingy text and wildly inventive art. Mimi the cat says another name for this book might be, “How I became a genius and got a bowl of milk too.” Mimi, you see, is an artistic cat, and an uncompromising one at that. When her pigeon pal, Laszlo, tells her she should find a human to care for her, Mimi sneers, “Humans? Noisy things who can't even lick their own toes?” Mimi wants to find someone who will inspire her, and that she does in Mr. Dada, an artist who says art can and should be any manner of things, as when he lets an ice cube melt in his hand. Even being yelled at means, “I have gotten on someone's nerves, and that's just what an artist should do.” It takes effort on Mimi's part, but when she shows her absurdist side to Mr. Dada, a beautiful friendship begins. Yet the story hardly tells the story. With pictures inspired by many artists, including Marcel Duchamp, it's the art that will get kids to sit up and take notice. A mix of collage, fantastical and realistic drawings, and offbeat design work, the illustrations are played off a variety of fonts and typefaces, designed to keep the reader off balance. Art can be anything, but here it is style, invention, and lots of fun. Grades 1-4. --Ilene CooperSee all Editorial Reviews