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CLAUDE MONET by P.I. Maltbie


The Painter Who Stopped the Trains

by P.I. Maltbie & illustrated by Jos. A. Smith

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8109-8961-0
Publisher: Abrams

A handsome and child-friendly introduction to the Impressionist master. Maltbie wisely avoids the default, late-career Monet’s water-lilies-at-Giverny story and focuses instead on a more robust and aesthetically transformational incident: Monet’s desire to produce his very first series of paintings. These paintings displayed the "impressionistic" interplay of light, color and mood in their depiction of steam engines in Paris’s Gare Saint-Lazare in the winter of 1877. This series of paintings inspired his fellow painters and also gained critical kudos. While the author admits to fictionalizing Monet's inspiration (his nine-year-old son’s love of trains), the narrative works well, and much information is thoughtfully, accessibly presented. Smith’s detailed and carefully worked watercolors are well integrated, and (save the jarringly comic caricature of the stationmaster) the illustrator smartly handles the problem of representing Monet’s aesthetic while remaining true to his own unique style. Admirable. (author’s note, reproductions of Monet’s work, index/glossary, list of Monet paintings in U.S./Canadian collections, illustrator's note) (Picture book. 5-9)