A sweet slice of life in 1960s Provence.
Former British Children’s Laureate Morpurgo reunites with the talented illustrator of the 2004 commemorative U.K. edition of his now-classic War Horse in this stand-alone short story drawn from the admired collection Singing for Mrs. Pettigrew (2009). When Yannick’s mother is scheduled for surgery, she arranges for him to stay at her sister’s family inn in Provence, preparing him for the trip with a book about post-impressionist Paul Cézanne, a native of Provence. Arriving in Provence, Yannick begins working evenings in the restaurant with his warm aunt Mathilde, his bustling, kind uncle Bruno and his vivacious, impatient older cousin Amandine. Days, he freely roams the hills, immersing himself in the glorious region that Cézanne so evocatively captured. When a man noised about as a “great painter” comes to dine, Yannick mistakenly destroys the drawing the artist leaves behind as payment. Crushed by this error, he visits the artist’s château in order to secure a replacement drawing from the man he thinks is Cézanne. However, it is kindly, bald, striped-shirted Picasso who comes to the rescue. Savvy art lovers will have already guessed the painter’s identity, as the restaurant is decorated with similar drawings left in payment by this most famous diner. Place’s full-color paintings bring Yannick’s sojourn to life.
Art lovers of all ages will find this charming read-aloud as delicious a treat as a serving of crème brûlée. (Fiction. 7-10)