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Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude Hardcover – February 10, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5 Up—Winter has cleverly constructed the briefest of introductions to the adult life of Gertrude Stein and the salon era during which she wrote. Using mimicry, he demonstrates the repetitive, rambling, nonsensical style that made the eccentric writer famous: "A sentence can be whatever, if you're Gertrude. You don't have to make sense (if you're Gertrude). You can write 'rose is a rose is a rose is a rose' if you're Gertrude." He describes her relationship with Alice B. Toklas: "Gertrude does the talking and laughing. And Alice makes sure that Gertrude is happy." Words and illustrations simulate the salons of the early 20th century where artists, writers, thinkers—Picasso, Matisse, and Hemingway are featured here—gathered to discuss the arts and culture of the day. The text is written in a variety of font sizes. Bright acrylic illustrations, set against backgrounds of orange, turquoise, rose, yellow, and ochre, meld perfectly with the text. Brown's avant-garde folk-style paintings include people with caricature faces and representations of "modern" paintings ("All art is modern when it's being made"). A short author's note offers a bit of information about Stein. Alas, due to its sophisticated topic, this creative, artistic piece will appeal to a limited audience.—Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
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From Booklist

Gertrude Stein holds court when Picasso, Matisse, Hemingway, and lots of other artists and writers visit. Alice B. Toklas serves tea.Told in verse, with a wink to Stein’s own looping, playful, repetitive narrative style, this ebullient picture-book view of these famous figures becomes something of a dreamy impression. The Rockwell typeface, dancing across the page in ever-changing variations of boldness and size; the almost post-impressionistic acrylic paintings, brash and welcoming all at once; and the evocative bounce of the words all combine to echo the originality of Gertrude Stein’s vision, in a palpable way. Winter’s text creates an infectious, rhythmic web, while Brown’s pictures offer nods to the particular styles of the artists on display. The call for an impressionistic picture-book biography of Gertrude Stein may be limited, but this title’s joyful spirit and the ease with which it reads aloud will help it find a much broader audience. Grades 2-4. --Thom Barthelmess
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 390L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (February 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 141694088X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416940883
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #357,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Paris fan on January 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At last a children's picture book devoted to Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas! And what an entertaining and fun introduction for both children and adults. The text reflects Gertrude's repetitive, terse style with a touch of humor which I think would also have made her laugh. The events and places chosen for the story accurately reflect aspects of GertrudeandAlice's life together ---whether their parties in Paris (with Picasso, Matisse and Hemingway), their picnics in the countryside, Alice's typing of Gertrude's manuscripts or jaunts with their poodle Basket. The brightly colored illustrations are reminiscent of the vibrant colors in the paintings that hung in their apartment in Paris and are creatively mingled with the text which is presented in small and large fonts. A wonderful book that children and adults will want to browse through over and over again to become a part of the lives of this remarkable couple!

Two small errors in the book--Basket their poodle was white not black and in the biographical note about Stein, the year of her birth is incorrect---should be 1874 not 1872. (Maybe these can be fixed in future editions!)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anne Boynton on April 19, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Gertrude is..." Not Jonah Winter at his best. "Gertrude is..." A series of vaguely amusing vignettes of life in Paris. The illustrations are fun, the use of language modeled after Stein, and if your child is already familiar w Picasso, Dali, Matisse then your child will have a good time picking out their friends in the crowd.

BUT. This is no way to introduce the visual artists -- they are sidelights without enough to captivate the imagination. It is, after all, about Stein.

More bothersome to me is the lack of plot (conflict? Nope. Resolution? Nope) or character development. This is a "story" in which a few things happen -- a party, a walk, a picnic, but they add up to nothing more than a series of vignettes.

My long attention span, artist oriented 4 yr old picks this one from time to time. But far better Jonah Winter choices are "Ffabulous Feud of Gilbert & Sullivan" which has conflict, resolution, and a reassuring moral about friends who fight or "Secret Works of Hildegard von Bingen" conflict, resolution, character development, and an important lesson about sharing our gifts (and visions, in more than one sense) with the world. Relative to these greats, "Gertrude is" flat.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Debnance at Readerbuzz on March 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Go ahead and call it a children's picture book, but I think you are wrong; the young children I read this book to looked at me in bewilderment.

It looks like a picture book. It reads like a picture book. But reading it to young children is like asking junior high students to read Great Expectations; it can be read, but it should be saved for those old enough to really appreciate it.

I, for one, loved it. It would probably be among my top picks for best nonfiction picture book for this year. It's bright and colorful. The text mimics the style of the subject, poet Gertrude Stein. It's funny. As Gertrude Stein might say, A picture book is a picture book is a picture book is a picture book. But sometimes it's not.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. McGuire on March 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I'm surprised that the specs for this book state ages 9-12.

Both of my daughters, ages 2.5 and 5.5 ***love*** this book! It's one of their favorites.

It's written in very unusual style for a child's book -- apparently it's written the way Gertrude wrote.

Alice is also written a central part of her life, and I'm glad they aren't brushing her under the rug.

The illustrations are fantastic, very beautiful, and with a different palette on each page.

The text is all over the place, with font size changing to indicate emphasis, and not all lined up on a horizontal plane -- sometimes it's wavy or stacked.

Highly recommend this book for people who want to read outside the usual stack.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A. Vernick on March 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Modern, fun, silly and also kind of brilliant.

A perfect blend of interesting, lyrical, surprising language and engaging, whimsical illustration, this picture book offers an accessible introduction to a wonderful, modern life.
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