Books by Gretchen Schields

Released: Oct. 1, 1996

Mr. Blue is a kindly old soul with a soft spot for homeless cats and dogs, using the good offices of his emporium to find them caretakers. Just before Christmas, one kitten remains; that's because it blends in so well with its surroundings, it can't be seen. Mr. Blue takes the kitten back to his place, a fanciful Victorian abode, where the cat promptly melts away ``into all the clutter and patterns,'' then reappears when least expected. All this is too much for Mr. Blue's fragile nervous system, so he makes plans to give the cat, dubbed Cantsee, away. Cantsee gets wind of Mr. Blue's intentions. When gifts of mice and worms fail to thrill Mr. Blue, or make him change his mind, the cat vanishes into the background, only to emerge again, as unexpectedly as before, to thwart robbers who have bound Mr. Blue to a chair and are making off with his frippery. Although the text is longer than most picture-book fare, this is a fresh story with sweet duo at its center. Schields makes the most of the premise; her illustrations become gleeful when demonstrating the cat's chameleon-like changes. (Picture book. 3-7) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

A beautifully written story about why Siamese cats are really Chinese cats, and why their faces, ears, paws, and tails turn darker as they grow up. Sagwa, a "pearl white kitten," lived with her parents in the House of the Foolish Magistrate. Sagwa's parents were forced by the Magistrate to write his strict, selfish rules by dipping their tails in ink. When Sagwa falls into an inkpot and walks over one of the Magistrate's Scroll of Rules — the one banning all singing — her paw marks change the meaning of the scroll so that it reads, "People must sing." When the people of the town hear the new rule, they sing in praise of the Foolish Magistrate, which warms his heart and causes him to take back all the old rules. He celebrates what Sagwa has done by opening his house to all stray cats, declaring that they shall eat as much catfish as they wish and that for ever after, "all Chinese cats shall have dark faces, ears, paws, and tails — in honor of the greatest of felines, Sagwa of China." Tan, who collaborated with Schields on her first children's book, The Moon Lady (1992), tells this charming tale perfectly, in language that is both simple and elegant. And Schields's artwork complements the text wonderfully with its traditional Chinese border decorations and colorful, well-drawn characters. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 30, 1992

In a story adapted from The Joy Luck Club, "Nai-nai" amuses her granddaughters with a story about her "earliest memory," an exciting day during the Moon Festival, when she was seven. "Ying-ying" longs to get a secret wish from the Moon Lady. Elegantly dressed in embroidered silk, she escapes her family's fine boat and her nursemaid and encounters the world outside her protected existence. Watching an old woman preparing eels, she gets spattered with blood; later, she falls into the lake, is rescued by a fisherman who mistakes her for a beggar, and discovers that the mysterious "Moon Lady" in the shadow theater is, in reality, an ugly old man. The Chinese setting comes vibrantly to life in Tan's warm narration, rich in detail and in sagacious—but unobtrusive—observations. Schields's art—large full pages plus decorative vignettes—sings with the bright color typical of Chinese picture books, while her lively line defines character and a multitude of authentic details. Despite the format, the long text will be enjoyed most by older children. (Fiction/Picture book. 7-10) Read full book review >