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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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