Review: Monet Paints a Day by Julie Danneberg

monet paints a day

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.

Review: What to Do If an Elephant Stands on Your Foot by Michelle Robinson

if an elephant stands

What to Do If an Elephant Stands on Your Foot by Michelle Robinson, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

You must stay calm, if an elephant stands on your foot.  The last thing you want to do is startle it…YEEEOOOWWW!  Now you probably want to run away from the elephant, but resist that and don’t run.  After all, running attracts tigers.  Oops.  OK, so now that you have the tiger’s attention you have to be silent.  No sudden noises, like a sneeze.  And so the romp in the jungle continues with the poor character steadily making worse and worse choices, including climbing up a tree and jumping into crocodile infested water.  Finally, thanks to the help of some friendly monkeys, you arrive home safe and sound.  All you need to do is apologize to the elephant, but remember, don’t startle him! 

I absolutely adored this wild ride of a book.  It reads aloud beautifully, though I’d practice a bit before using it with a group because the timing of the jokes is everything here.  Robinson’s writing has a great comedic feel, and the book design maximizes the humor with the page turns.  The pace is wild and almost run away, suiting the subject.  The book is one long running gag, which will delight young readers.

Reynolds’ art adds to the humor.  He manages to take sedate and even friendly animals and with one sneeze or jump turn them alarmingly grumpy.  This creates a zany energy in the art and the book as a whole.

This is a book to keep in your bag for when the kids get restless.  Pull it out with a grin and a flourish.  I’d also keep it in mind for an option when reading to older elementary children, since they will love the humor too.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books for Young Readers.