Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Wanda Gág: The Girl Who Lived to Draw” as Want to Read:
Wanda Gág: The Girl Who Lived to Draw
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Wanda Gág: The Girl Who Lived to Draw

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  136 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Wanda Gág (pronounced ?Gog?) is well known as the author and illustrator of Millions of Cats, one of the best-loved children?s books ever published. But not many people know how interesting and inspiring her life was. Following in the footsteps of her beloved artist father, Wanda led an idyllic childhood, drawing and listening to old-world fairy tales. But when her father ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published October 2nd 2008 by Viking Books for Young Readers
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Wanda Gág, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Wanda Gág

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.21  · 
Rating details
 ·  136 ratings  ·  42 reviews

More filters
Sort order
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those who like biographical picture books
What a wonderful book, this was so absorbing for an adult but also aimed well at younger readers. This story tells of the life of Wanda Gàg (which we learnt rhymes with jog not bag) What a hard life she had and how inspirational. The story was very emotional in places but there was lots of hope and happiness too. I loved her fathers last words to her. I liked the way the book included extracts from Wanda's diary throughout the story.

The story had nice illustrations although I would have preferre
Lisa Vegan
Jun 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all who are passionate about something, biography fans, fans of beautiful illustrations
You know, for what this book is, it is amazing. This story is certainly interesting enough to be written as a biography for adults but, because Gág (rhymes with jog) is most famous for her children’s picture books, having this done as a biography written for children is wonderful. I love how Wanda’s own words (from her diary and other sources) are used in this book. Wanda’s early life was tough and brought me close to tears at times, but it was so inspiring to read about someone who loved someth ...more
Deborah Kogan Ray's Wanda Gág: The Girl Who Lived to Draw is a short but always sufficiently detailed picture book biography of famous Bohemian-American children's illustrator and author Wanda Gág (amongst her many books being Newbery Award winner Millions of Cats and Newbery Honour winner The ABC Bunny), a delightful narrative that not only covers and describes the main points both happy and sad, both triumphant and tragic of Wanda Gág's life, but also very much and importantly demonstrates tha ...more
Jul 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I love this book! I'm so grateful to my GoodReads friend Lisa for bringing it to my attention. I regret that I have never been a huge fan of Gag's children's books (because the stories are somewhat lacking for me) though I do think her artwork is special. So, I probably would have ignored this title if I'd come across it on my own. What a sad loss that would have been!

This is the story of Wanda's life from her happy childhood with loving parents and extended family (gosh, I wanted to go along to
La Coccinelle
Mar 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
When I was growing up, my younger sister was obsessed with cats. She had Millions of Cats (the book... not actually millions of cats), and we both read it numerous times. As an adult who dislikes cats, the premise of that book freaks me out a little bit... but the illustrations are unique and interesting, and completely different than anything that had been put out for children at the time it was written. I came across this short biography of Wanda Gág on We Give Books, so I thought I'd give it ...more
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Young Biography Readers / Wanda Gág Fans
Recommended to Abigail by: Lisa Vegan
This immensely engaging picture-book biography follows the story of artist and children's author Wanda Hazel Gág (pronounced "gog"), whose ground-breaking picture-book Millions of Cats , was chosen as a Newbery Honor Book in 1929, and remains in print to this day. Born and raised in Minnesota, in an enclave of German-speaking Bohemian immigrants, Wanda's childhood was a happy one: surrounded by the love of her artistic parents, and her six younger siblings, she imbibed a constant diet of fairy- ...more
Katie Fitzgerald
Wanda Gag (1893-1946) was an American children's picture book author and illustrator, best known for Millions of Cats.

The book opens with an explanation of how the reader probably knows of Wanda Gag (through her book, Millions of Cats), and then it dives into a beautifully written narrative of her life, based heavily on entries from her diary. Each page begins with a first-person quotation from the diary, and then the author provides further detail about Gag's cozy childhood filled
Debbie Hoskins
Well done, illustrated biography of Wanda Gag (rhymes with jog). Deborah documents the book with a wonderful photograph of Wanda that proves what a wonderful job Deborah did incorporating how Wanda looked with her own style. The cover looks like some of Deborah's fine art that I had the opportunity to see slides of in the late 80's. Deborah uses Wanda's own words to tell the story. I appreciate the author's notes, acknowledgments and bibliography that proved Deborah did her research. A beautiful ...more
Apr 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love the lines from Wanda Gág's diary across the top of each page.

Wanda Gág - a true Minnesota treasure.
This title has much to offer many interested readers. Anyone who once cherished Millions of Cats, considered by many to be the first modern picture book, or anyone who loves a rags to riches story of triumph will enjoy this picture book biography about Wanda Gag (rhymes with jog). The author describes her art- and story-filled childhood and early artistic influence and the loss of her father when she was fifteen. But Wanda was stubborn and continued to work on her art even while trying to find a ...more
Apr 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Born to Bohemian parents in Minnesota all the Gag (rhymes with jog, not bag) children were encouraged to actively pursue both the fine and performing arts. Their father, a house painter by trade, was also a painter of pictures and on his deathbed he gave his oldest daughter this commission, “What Papa couldn’t do, Wanda will have to finish.” Starting at age fifteen Wanda began to support the family through the sale of her art. On scholarships she went on to study art in St. Paul and at the Art S ...more
Jun 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wanda Gag (rhymes with jog) is the author and illustrator of the classic Millions of Cats. Deborah Kogan Ray describe Gag's early life and development as an artist. The narrative is enhanced with quotes from the diary that Gag began keeping at the age of 15.

Born in rural Minnesota to German immigrants, Gag observed her father's passion for art and developed her own passion for learning and observing life. After her father dies, Wanda takes on much responsibility for her family but continues her
Janice  Durante
Sep 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
Beautifully written and illustrated, Ray has produced a glowing portrait of Wanda Gag, the unique artist and writer known as the mother of the picture book. Using quotes from Gag's own diary, she introduces the reader to Gag as a lively, curious child in her Bohemian-immigrant community in Minnesota. After her beloved father dies, Gag, only 15, taps her talent, devotion, and energy to support her family. The biography follows her as she becomes a successful artist in New York and publishes her g ...more
This book is a biography of author and artist Wanda Gag. Wanda’s childhood was magical—her artist father encouraged her and her parents told her stories. Even though she lived in the U.S., her community was a small version of Europe. When her father died, he entrusted her to carry on his artistic work and even though her family struggles through poverty, Wanda follows her dreams. The narrative is interwoven with quotations from Wanda Gag’s actual diary and the back of the book has additional inf ...more
Roxanne Hsu Feldman
I am profoundly moved by this picture book biography of an amazing artist. It's partially because of my own belief in the power and importance of art in our world, but mostly, it's because Deborah Kogan Ray's candid text, capturing Wanda Gag's spirit, and her oil paintings capturing Gag's world and time. My eyes and heart were drawn to those little lighter/brighter outlines around some of the objects and figures in each painting. I don't really know why, but they seem to be metaphorically signif ...more
Jun 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookclub
Excellent picture book biography of the creator of the classic picture book Millions of Cats. The story itself was inspiring, as well as the way the author and illustrator chose to tell it. Elements (and drawings) from Millions of Cats are woven into the story along with quotes from Wanda Gag's journal, and the book includes extensive footnotes about Wanda Gag, her life after Millions of Cats (and how to pronounce her name). The illustrations are breathtakingly beautiful. I highly recommend this ...more
"Millions of Cats" was always a favorite of mine. Captain Kangeroo's show used to feature it in a picture book segment and that's where I was exposed to it. The folkloric look of it appealed. This story about its author/illustrator is a nice introduction to what formed the artist. I wished there had been more about her importance to the art of the picture book, but this does a good job of letting kids get to know Gag's background and how that informed her work. The drawings are cozy and old-fash ...more
Cricket Muse
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the most enlightening ways to quickly learn about someone is through a picture book biography. This is the case for Wanda Gag: The Girl Who Lived to Draw. Artist/author Deborah Kogan Ray provides a colorful presentation of the woman who wrote Millions of Cats. Gag (rhymes with "jog" not "bag") is a Cinderella story of poverty to world famous recognition. She never lost her desire and dream to draw, even while supporting her sisters and brother.
Author of Millions of Cats, Wanda Gág grew up in a family that “buzzed with creative activity.” When her father passed away, Wanda was left to take care and support her family. Taking a job as a teacher left little time for her favorite hobby. Determined to do both, Wanda went out to fulfill her father’s last wish. “I found a new motto: “Draw to live, and live to draw.” One who is an artist, or one who wants to be one (like me) has to dream.”
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it
This picture book biography of author/illustrator Wanda Gag is a sweet sad story that parents will like and children will tune out. For one thing it should not have been done in a picture book format, a small chapter book would have been much better suited. Unless your child has read and loved much of Wanda Gag's work and enjoys depressing stories of growing up with nearly nothing, than I don't see this connecting with most kiddos.
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is about Wanda Gag who is the first person to write a picture book. It is full of beautiful illustrations. It is also very well-written about Wanda's life. After reading it, I just went through it several times just to look at the pictures. I loved how the author included excerpts from Wanda's diaries through out the story.
Catherine Woodman
This is kind of a clever book--along the lines of the Langston Hughes book. An illustrator's tribute to another artist, she used Wanda Gag's diary that she wrote as a child as the text and illustrated it. The story is best aimed at the mid-grammar school girl, and is a nice story of following your dream to be an artist.
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to I am finding a treasure trove of books and information I would have never found otherwise.

Wanda gag (rhymes with fog not bag) wanted to be an artist since birth. This is her life story parred down for children to read. It also has a lot of amazing artwork. It made me want to get my art supplies out and draw again.
Dec 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
I especially loved the colors in the illustrations of this picturebook biography, very rich and warm. I also appreciated the author's notes that encouraged me to find out more about Wanda Gag (rhymes with jog). She was a very determined, indepentent, and talented girl/woman This may be a good book for young girls looking for strong female role models.
Hayley Imbler
Dec 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
This beautiful biography talks about the value of Art in Wanda's home growing up with inspired her to become an artist. Although born and raised in America she had a very different lifestyle. She said that things would cry out to her to be drawn. It's a great story about how to never give up on your dreams.
May 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Besides learning that Wanda's last name rhymes with "jog" and not "bag", I was really taken with her perseverance and dedication to her dream of being an artist. I loved the combination of text with the words from her diary, and the back matter made this biography even more meaningful.
Mar 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing

Terrific biographical picture book about the artist's early years as an artist in Minnesota and NYC. Gág's story of sacrifice and determination to follow her dream is inspiring. I like how the author used excerpts of source material (Gág's diaries) and then expanded upon those quotes.
Jun 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Inspiring! I’m glad I found this book because it’s a great example of not to give up on your dreams despite whatever curve balls life throws your way! I want to read Millions of Cats now! (Oh, her last name sound like “jog” and not “jag.”)
Jan 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Marcie by: Elizabeth Bird
I loved how this biography was designed with each page introduced by a quotation from Wanda Gag's diaries. Among other things I learned from the reading was that I had always mispronounced her name. "It 'should rhyme with jog, not bag please!' she told them." said the Author's Note.
Jul 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
I've loved "Millions of Cats" forever but wow! I had no idea Wanda Gag was such a cool lady. She believed in her unique artistic vision so strongly, and stuck with it through very tough circumstances.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »