A fox wants to preserve seasonal colors throughout the year.
Each year, as spring progresses to summer and then autumn, a red fox appreciatively watches a garden shift from pale hues to “flaming orange, vibrant red, and golden yellows.” But in winter, when snow buries everything, he longs for the other three seasons. Can he preserve nature’s colors past their cycle? He gathers petals, but a deer eats them; he collects pebbles (a confusing representation of summer—wouldn’t their color be stable year-round?), but the pond rises over them; he arranges autumn leaves, but gusts of wind blow them away. Only an accidental encounter with a human reveals a way to keep nature’s colors past their time: with paint, on a canvas. The painter is Claude Monet—identified in the story only through his name and the garden’s arching green bridge. Waites’ illustrations offer no bridge to Monet or impressionism, though a brief author’s note provides some introduction. Trees, petals, lawns, and the fox are smoothly filled-in shapes with neat edges. Grass blades are clear and straight. There’s no abstraction, no content made from dots or daubs. The tiny canvases depicted do feature dots, but they do not convey impressionism. Many illustrations curl tidily inside a clean circle, itself sometimes perched inside a clean square, divorcing the feel even more from impressionism. Illustrations regarding a fine artist needn’t mimic their work, but this bland, simplistic style highlighting smoothly curved edges forms no visual pointer to Monet or impressionism.
Skip. (Picture book. 3-6)