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Grade 4-7-Similar in theme and style to Christina Bj.rk's Linnea in Monet's Garden (R & S Bks, 1987), this story depicts the period of a young American girl's life spent with her family in the French countryside in the early 1890s. Presented in a journal/scrapbook format, the narrative describes Charlotte's family's arrival in Giverny, where her father plans to paint, and the ambience of the bucolic community where Monet reigns as an impressive, if somewhat remote, artistic master. The passing of the seasons is recounted through a series of social, domestic, creative, and pastoral pastimes. Despite her enjoyment of Giverny's agreeable diversions, Charlotte is mildly homesick until she learns that her best friend and her family will be joining them soon. Thus, the only real tension in the story is facilely resolved. All of the entries are amply illustrated with fine-art reproductions; historical photographs; and whimsical, na.ve watercolours. The craftsmanship of the bookmaking lends the impression of a real journal with its binding and typeface. A list of credits identifying the famous paintings and artists is included. However, while attractive, the narrative lacks verve and fails to place the story in its adequate historical perspective. Impressionism and Monet's place in this pivotal artistic movement are not adequately addressed here. While this pretty book may be useful as supplemental material, it is ultimately derivative and lacklustre.
Rosalyn Pierini, San Luis Obispo City-County Library, CA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Joan MacPhail Knight is also the author of Charlotte in Paris and Charlotte in New York. She and her husband live in New York. Melissa Sweet has illustrated over 70 children's books. Every year she takes a trip to collect images for her beautiful collages. She lives in Maine.