Tells a fictionalized story of how this actual portrait of a young farm girl came to be painted by Ammi Phillips sometime around 1835 in Dutchess County, New York.
From Kirkus Reviews
In his first book, in homage to American folk art, Nicholson imagines the story behind the painting Portrait of a Little Girl in a Red Dress with Cat and Dog in the Museum of American Folk Art in New York City. The unnamed little girl narrates, describing how her portrait's creator, a self-taught artist named Ammi Phillips, traveled from state to state in the 1830s, painting farm families and depictions of country life. At her home, everyone else is too busy to pose, so she sits for the painting--and it's more difficult than she expected. While she is being painted, she gets to eat cherry tarts with the ladies in the parlor, and convinces Phillips to include Cat and Dog in the portrait at no extra cost. The first line, ``That's me over the fireplace,'' establishes a personal connection between readers and the girl, just as she establishes a connection with Phillips. In her picture-book debut, Von Buhler skillfully emulates the primitive folk-art style with characteristically solid, straight-mouthed figures and clean, flat lines. (Picture book. 4-8)
From School Library Journal
Grade 1-4?The title and story of this unique book are based on an actual painter and painting. Ammi Phillips was a traveling portrait artist in the 1830's. The child is a rambunctious girl whose family is too busy with everyday tasks to have her underfoot. One day Phillips arrives and it is decided that she and her pets will sit for the portrait. Illustrations feature the painting style of the time?folk-art oils done in deep reds and blues. Layout also parallels the era, using a variety of partial-, full-, and double-page spreads?some bordered in ovals and squares to resemble portraits. Visual details, too, are indicative of the period?needlepoint, china, fashion. This book has an interesting premise but will need an introduction for children to understand its historical significance. Young readers will relate to the universal theme of an "ignored" child finding her place and becoming the center of attention. Art teachers may also be able to use this title as a springboard to research and projects. While this is not a selection children will gravitate to on their own, there is plenty to interest them once they discover it.