This wholly delightful book, with beautiful pictures, graceful design, and a deft and telling text, is one of four in a new series for children that includes volumes on Chagall
. Each book lightly skips through the alphabet, teaching a bit of French along the way--A
is for "Avocat" (lawyer)--as it tells the life story of a great artist in brief but vivid glimpses. (The books are translated from the French.) The writing is designed to draw readers (and young listeners) in: "January, 1887. It is extremely cold in the Law School. To warm himself, the professor, sporting an unruly mustache, paces back and forth while he lectures. In the fourth row, a thin, serious student takes notes. He is 20 years old and his name is Pierre--Pierre Bonnard." This you-are-there reportage style sweeps toward the inevitable: Bonnard, whose notebooks contain "more drawings than notes," enrolls in art school.
The Harry Potter books have amply demonstrated that children appreciate mellifluous writing, and those who also love art will find both here. In spite of the abbreviated format, no essential is left out. In the Bonnard alphabet, for example, M is for Marthe, who "does not yet know that by entering into Pierre's life she will penetrate to the heart of his work. Henceforth, she will be his only model." Adults who become entranced by this elementary series may go on to more complex biographies of Bonnard, such as Timothy Hyman's. But for a mesmerizing first glimpse into the life of this painter of color and light, Bonnard from A to Z is a treasure. --Peggy Moorman
From Kirkus Reviews
Sellier (Matisse from A to Z, 1995, etc.) has created another succinct biography told in ABC form, by matching one relevant French word to an aspect of the artist's life (Bulles for bubbles, as well as Ubu and Winterthur). Unlike the art of Matisse and Monet, Bonnard's work hasn't been replicated to an excess; perhaps that's why his paintings seem such a breath of fresh air. A friend of Vuillard and Roussel, Bonnard was included in a group of artists called the Nabis (the Hebrew word for prophet), who believed everything should be a work of art. Bonnard put this theory to practice, painting on fans, room screens, and dressers, as well as canvas. His work often portrayed domestic subjects--children, pets, and his wife, Marthe. From such details, Sellier arranges a touching homage to a painter whose brush recorded the many crucial details necessary to create un petit monde--the ``small world'' that was Bonnard's definition of a painting. (Picture book. 7-10) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.