Painting by Catherine Augusta Rademacher Gibson, in “Bear on the Stair” by St. Louis Artist Mary Sprague
Catherine Augusta Rademacher Gibson painted pictures that illustrated stories her grandmother told about life on the prairie, retold in Bear on the Stair and Other Stories. Used with permission of Mary Sprague, Gibson’s daughter.

Whimsy & Art for Every Age

A Can’t Miss Book of Colorful Paintings and Prairie Stories

2 min readDec 20, 2023


I share news of this delightful book every year. It’s equally appropriate for children and adults, filled with whimsical paintings and equally whimsical one-page stories of the prairie. It’s a hidden gem of art and history, disguised as pure fun.

The watercolors, painted between 1986 and 1989, are edgy and fresh — a mash-up of Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse, with a dollop of Keith Haring. The stories are hilarious. Together with the pictures, kids will have hours of fun exploring the details.

(This book was made by a friend of mine, artist Mary Sprague of St. Louis. She compiled the book of paintings by her mother, Catherine Augusta Rademacher Gibson, and retold the charming stories Catherine heard from her mother. I had no part in the book and I don’t derive any profit from my recommendation. I just know you will love it.)

Glorious Fourth of July is available from the South Dakota Historical Society Press, 900 Governors Drive, Pierre, South Dakota 57501,

The paintings of Mary Gibson Sprague can be seen at

Bear on the Stair painting by Catherine Augusta Rademacher Gibson, in book by her daughter, St. Louis artist Mary Sprague. Used with permission
Catherine Augusta Rademacher Gibson painted this picture of a bear on the stair to illustrate a story told by her grandmother and retold in “Bear on the Stair.” Used with permission of Mary Sprague




Writer, Collaborator & Idea Person: Traveling house-sitter, thrift-store denizen, resale maven and former newspaper reporter. Inspired by people and art.