From Publishers Weekly
In his first book for children, art historian Robertson imparts a wealth of information on 15th-century book illumination via a sweet if somewhat hackneyed story. Papa Jacques is the most admired book illustrator in all of Paris, but he is growing old; his shaking hands and poor vision have delayed his work on an important prayer book. And when his glasses break, daughter Marguerite realizes that she must be the one to complete Papa's work. Robertson's descriptions of the materials used in creating an illuminated manuscriptAanimal skins dried for parchment; goose feathers plucked for pens; madder root, parsley, saffron, vermilion and lapis lazuli mixed to make the vivid paints (shown in a four-page gatefold)Aare sandwiched into transparently didactic prose ("Lapis lazuli stone!... To think these came from over mountains and deserts, across rivers..."). Departing from the sly caricatures she created for Lives of the Artists, Lives of the Writers, etc. Hewitt offers realistic watercolors that give a lively sense of the bustling Paris of nearly 600 years ago. Best of all are the illuminated borders she creates for chapter openers, portraying the illustration style described in the text, and the judicious use of gold ink to set off her compositions and her projections of Marguerite's manuscript. Ages 8-up. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 2-5-Careful attention to detail is demonstrated in this artful presentation of the story of a young French girl who carries on her father's book-painting tradition in 15th-century Paris. Papa Jacques is unable to complete a commissioned prayer book for his patron, Lady Isabelle. In four chapters, readers follow Marguerite as she assembles the needed materials: the parchment made from calfskin, the goose feathers used for pens, the eggs used for mixing paints, and apothecary roots and herbs for paint colors. Marguerite's ultimate success gains her the gratitude of her proud father and the attention of Lady Isabelle herself. The process of producing the vivid pigment used in manuscripts is described in a four-page center foldout. Brilliant gold highlights, originally produced by the delicate process of gluing gold leaf onto parchment, are reproduced in luminous decorated margins and page frames. Oversized illustrations are richly hued and realistically rendered; page color simulates parchment. This elegant picture book provides a wealth of educational detail and successfully conveys the spirit and beauty of medieval manuscripts. It's a useful and attractive addition to studies of medieval times and to the art of early manuscripts.Mary Ann Carcich, Suffolk County Community College Library, Riverhead, NY
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.