A small girl named Beatrix Potter spends her childhood painting.
Born to wealthy parents on July 28, 1866, in London, Beatrix spends her time with nannies and tutors “in the upstairs nursery, away from the activities of the grown-ups.” This doesn’t look as lonely as it sounds, though: Beatrix is contentedly painting, with great focus, from the very first page. Across from the first illustration, underneath the text, a tiny paint box and water jar look as tempting as anything could. Quietly, McPhail tells how Beatrix fashions sketchbooks out of paper and string, painting pictures of her pets, her brother’s pets, and nature overall: rabbit, mouse, lizard, toadstools, countryside. She paints to cope with sadness when her brother leaves for school; she paints in her own style, dismissing lessons. Eventually, growing older, she writes and draws what will become The Tale of Peter Rabbit. “Little books for little hands,” she says, insisting that her published books take a diminutive trim, and while this biography isn’t as small as those, it is still comfortably small. A few spreads are full-bleed, but most of the pictures are squared, nesting cozily inside white frames. Soft yet lush watercolors and fine lines create an old-fashioned feeling, and Beatrix herself resembles an early Maurice Sendak character.
Humble and lovely. (Picture book/biography. 3-6)