by Caroline Stellings
Peanut Butter Press
On February 19, 2015, millions around the world will be celebrating Chinese New Year and I can't think of a sweeter new book to herald it in than Caroline Stellings' first picture book, Gypsy's Fortune. As unimposing as the author-artist herself–her previous books include The Contest (Second Story Press, 2009) and The Manager (Cape Breton University Press, 2013)–Gypsy's Fortune shares clever messages about resilience and friendship, while offering a creative history regarding the origins of the fortune cookie.
Though she lives as a vagabond and sleeps beneath the stars, the ever-cheerful Gypsy, a "palm-reading, crystal-gazing, fortune-telling cat" (pg. 6), has managed to eke out a living in 1920s San Francisco. But the election of a new mayor who denies Gypsy and other fortune-tellers the right to charge for their services has our feline scurrying for alternate employment, but unsuccessfully. It is only when Gypsy offers to wash dishes at Wu's Restaurant and instead shares a meal with Mr. Wu that her luck changes.
Discretely reading his tea-leaves, Gypsy realizes Mr. Wu should not be selling his restaurant as he intends and finds a way to share this "fortune" with him. With a new marketing strategy, the two establish a friendly partnership to woo new customers and provide Gypsy with employment.
Just as one fortune cookie's message reads, "The long road is often the shortest path to the correct destination" (pg. 6), I believe Caroline Stellings is heading in the right direction and, with Gypsy's Fortune, I hope her destination is better secured.