Seeking a formal portrait of her rabbit, a Parisian girl meets several artists.
Josette’s upper-class home has portraits of all her family members (all white, and none of whom appear otherwise), but there’s no portrait of Pepette, the stuffed rabbit she carries everywhere. Josette walks to Montmartre, the bustling outdoor square “where the best artists in Paris painted.” Four adult male artists try their hands at painting Pepette. One gives her two noses and three ears; one makes her look droopy; one shows her flying through the sky; and the final one, to Josette’s confusion, sees Pepette as being brightly colored. This is the 1920s, and adults will recognize the painters as Picasso, Dalí, Chagall, and Matisse. Here Fletcher misses an opportunity: while each portrait does feature known traits of its master—in addition to having extra features, Picasso’s cubist Pepette is angular, for instance—the portraits’ styles and colors don’t jump off the page as distinct from the illustrations overall. Confusingly, Matisse’s Pepette isn’t even really pink, as the text claims she is—she’s nearly the same color as her most accurate portraitist shows her to be, when that person reveals herself. Still, the illustrations are lovely, using daubed and layered watercolors with loose lines to create light, airy scenes that invite long savoring.
A mild introduction to painting masters’ styles, with elegantly appealing artwork of its own. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)