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Claude Monet: The Painter Who Stopped the Trains Hardcover – September 1, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 860L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810989611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810989610
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,015,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Catherine W. Hughes on April 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Called an impressionist by art critics, Claude Monet was one of the first painters to paint what he perceived, with a focus on light and color. When asked to join an exhibit of impressionist painters, Claude decided to paint several paintings of trains. With the permission of the director of the Saint-Lazare station, Claude Monet delayed the departure of some of the station's trains, so that he could paint. The paintings of trains were well-received by the public, as images of modern life. After the show, Claude sold the paintings to an art dealer, leaving him money to paint the gardens and countryside of his home. Children ages 6-9 will appreciate this story book about a famous artist, learning about impressionism and art in the late 19th century.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bewildered Mom on April 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Jos. A. Smith illustrates this book with beautiful watercolor paintings of the artist Claude Monet and his world. The characters are surrounded by gorgeous landscapes and rendered in colorful period clothing, their faces brimming with personality (the rotund Monsieur le Director is my favorite).

The only disappointment is the lack of actual Monet paintings. The author's note has only two very small reproductions of his work and just one is from the Gare Saint-Lazare series, which is the focus of this book. This story is great, but must be read in conjunction with a quality art book of Monet's paintings.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Valdez on August 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone who has watched a child play with trains, or stood next to a child as they watched a train approaching and the ground tremble, must read this book. Finally the essence of an artist is portrayed beyond the ability to paint. Claude Monet's passion and motivation to paint is found in his beloved son Jean. As you read Claude Monet, The Painter Who Stopped the Trains, you can imagine a loving father sitting and tenderly watching his son as he delights in playing with his trains. You are reminded there are few moments more tender than a parent's watchful eye and when children entertained themselves without electronics. "Claude remembered Jean's excitement and worked to put it in his paintings". After reading this book to a former 5th grader who studied Monet in school last year, she expressed that the series of train paintings were not included in the art program. She did not realize that Monet painted more than garden scenes. Lastly, she was touched by Monet's dedication to his son and wife. Perhaps she will more easily recognize and appreciate the same from her parents after reading Claude Monet by P.I. Maltbie.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this before I had a chance to see it -- and I am sorry I did. I was looking for a shorter supplement about Monet to complement "Linnea in Monet's Garden" -- and I am still looking for one I want to retain on the bookshelf.

Pros: shows Monet was not just about flowers. Train lovers will understand the train enthusiasm of both Monet and his young son. My 4 yr old has picked it off the bookshelf several times, so she approves. Monet pursues his project with determination and is willing to ask for help to make his vision a reality.

Cons: illustrations don't appeal to me at all, especially the faces, which seem flat, heavy and sometime almost distorted. The text, while shorter than "Linnea" is still a very long read. The author uses the first name of the adult painters (ie "Claude" not "Monet"), which I find an odd choice since I am trying to enhance name recognition -- and respect.

And then there are the underlying messages of the book:

1) Monet uses fancy clothes and self assurance to bamboozle the art-ignorant station master into cooperation with Monet's plan. Message: use bluster, bluff, and (the appearance of) wealth to get what you want?
2) the station master is motivated not by quality of service but by vanity. Message: our goal is to be glamorous and high profile, not efficient and of service to others?
3) Monet puts his desire for a longer look at a given train above the needs of all the train riders, apparently without any remorse for the inconvenience he is causing. Message: our personal needs and wishes are more important than the needs of others, even many others?

These are NOT the messages I want to uphold as examples for my daughter.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richard Hartman on January 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Another great childrens story from P.I. Maltbie that my granddaughter and I read together. As she gets older she will appreciate Monet more and more because of this nice introduction to his art.
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