Monet Paints a Day by Julie Danneberg, illustrated by Caitlin Heimerl
Told in the first person by Monet, this book explores his painting process when he was on holiday in Etretat, France. Children waited for him when he leaves his hotel, wanting to help carry his canvasses to the seaside. When they reached the strip of sand at the bottom of the cliffs, the canvasses were placed against the cliff. Monet was unique in painting right in the middle of the landscape rather than sketching and then finishing the painting in his studio. Because of his unique approach, he had many canvasses in process at the same time. On this day, he got so involved in painting that he didn’t realize how quickly the tide was coming in. Everything was taken out by the sea, so he had to begin again on a new day.
Danneberg manages to tell two levels of story here. There is the day that Monet is painting which is explored in exquisite detail. Then in small boxes that are offset from the rest of the story, there is historical context offered about how Monet differs from other artists of his time and how he was creating an entirely new style of painting. The Author’s Note at the end offers even more detail as well as a copy of Monet’s Waves at the Manneporte so that readers can see an example of Monet’s work.
Heimerl has the challenge of doing a picture book based on a famous artist. In her illustrations she manages to create illustrations that both are their own style and yet pay homage to impressionism. She achieves this with small touches, daubs of watercolor, here and there, lightening and brightening the illustrations.
A very successful picture book biography of Monet, this will be enjoyed by elementary art teachers and students. Appropriate for ages 6-9.
Reviewed from copy received from Charlesbridge.