May 20, 2014

When Emily Carr Met Woo

by Monica Kulling
Illustrated by Dean Griffiths
Pajama Press
32 pp.
Ages 5+
May 1, 2014

When Emily Carr Met Woo is the second picture book biography from author Monica Kulling, illustrator Dean Griffiths and publisher Pajama Press that introduces young readers to famous artists through their relationships with animals.  Lumpito and the Painter from Spain (2012) introduced Pablo Picasso and his work via the little dachshund named Lumpito.   While the title of When Emily Carr Met Woo may give away the basics about the story, be assured that you won't get it all until you read Monica Kulling's words and take in Dean Griffiths' artwork.

Though most Canadians now know of the majestic mystery of Emily Carr's artwork, her rise to fame was the slow one not unknown to many artists.  While she continued to feed her passion for painting, she made a living by selling ceramics, hooked rugs and renting rooms to feed herself and her menagerie of furry and feathery friends, which included a little monkey, Woo.  Woo liked to gather her found and stolen treasures, including plumes from the parrot named Jane, in an old candy tin.  And Dean Griffiths illustrates Woo with her inherent energy and impish smile, easily conveying her prankster nature.  But, the night before Emily and her friends left for the rainforest of BC, Woo selects a new treasure that puts all, including her life, in jeopardy.

In only 32 pages, Monica Kulling is able to share the tenuous nature of Emily Carr's vocation and the artist's determination to persevere for her passion with the emotional support of her companions.  Though it's obvious that others looked upon her as "a strange bird", including her sisters, Emily Carr's depth of love for Woo is evident as a force that she could draw upon (no pun intended) and share with others.  Her despair, just as evocative in Dean Griffiths' artwork, is sadly just as deep.  Luckily, the spirit and beauty of the rainforest provides both Emily Carr and Woo with the motivation to keep going and project that love and loveliness.

A charming story of friendship and artistry, When Emily Carr Met Woo will provide the perfect book for introducing young readers to a great of Canadian art and her devotions.


  1. Thank you so much, Helen, for this wonderful review!


  2. This is a book I want to read. (Then I'll give it to my grandchildren)