From School Library Journal
Gr 2-5–A fictionalized account of Monet's son's enthusiasm for trains serves as the inspiration for the artist's real-life endeavor to paint steam engines arriving and departing the Gare Saint-Lazare, capturing the light and atmospheric conditions at various times of day. Along with a lively telling of how Monet convinced the station's director to delay departures so he could paint, the thoroughly researched narrative provides an introduction to the Impressionist style, emphasizing that it was radically different from the realistic paintings favored at the time. Large, Impressionist-inspired watercolors complement the text, allowing readers to examine individual brush strokes and consider what sets Impressionism apart from other artistic styles. The book's art historical details combined with its vivid illustrations make it an appealing read-aloud. This title is also an accessible option for biography reports, though its scope focuses on a particular moment in Monet's career, rather than a life story. End pages include author's and artist's notes and a guide to Monet's paintings in U.S. and Canadian museums. While this book may not hold wide appeal for a casual audience, it is a solid choice for academic use.Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Offering another engaging and perceptive historical reconstruction along the lines of her Picasso and Minou (2005), Maltbie highlights a watershed event in the life of Monet and the history of impressionism. Inspired by his son’s enthusiasm for trains and hoping to sweeten the hostile critical reception his work has been receiving, the painter created a series of scenes set in Paris’ first train station, the Gare Saint-Lazare. Maltbie grounds her imagined scenes in actual incidents (including the clever ploy that Monet used to secure official permission to delay some trains so that he could catch them in just the right light) in a narrative that concludes with the paintings’ popular success. She also closes with an illustrated explanatory note and useful lists of museums and audience-appropriate print resources. In a set of large, richly hued watercolors, Smith displays his usual facility for naturally posed figures in accurate period dress and places them against (what else?) impressionistic backgrounds. A very good introduction to both the artist and to the movement with which he is associated. Grades 3-5. --John Peters