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Paris in the Spring with Picasso Hardcover – March 23, 2010
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About the Author
Joan Yolleck reviews children’s books for The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper. This is her first children’s book. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.
Marjorie Priceman is a two-time recipient of a Caldecott Honor award—for Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin! and Hot Air. She is also the author-illustrator of How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A., as well as How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. A
graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, she lives in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
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This book, in a very colorful way, brings to life Paris in the early 20th century focusing on some of the friends of the American writer Gertrude Stein, whose Parisian apartment became a gathering place of writers and visual artists.
Marjorie Priceman's brightly colored gouache and ink illustrations enhance Joan Yolleck's story of strolls through various parts of Paris. The writers Apollinaire and Max Jacob and the artists Picasso and Marie Laurencin go about their daily lives anticipating an evening at the home of Gertrude Stein and "her best friend" Alice B. Toklas. Some Steinian references in the illustrations such as "pigeons on the grass" and plenty of roses are a pleasant surprise!
The brief biographical notes in the back of the book about Stein and Toklas and the other writers and artists featured are a nice touch, though it would also have been helpful to have included a short list of the few French words used in the book with a simply pronunciation guide. (Most, but not all of the French words are defined in the text, though the others are pretty easy to figure out.)
The book is listed as being for 4 to 8 years olds, but some words and the flow of the narrative may be a bit too difficult for 4 and 5 year olds.
There was Pablo Picasso, a great painter, who could be so intense he even "painted holding a candle in one hand and a brush in the other." He was a brilliant painter who would not want to miss the soirée. He was going to bring his girlfriend Fernande and Frika, their dog. All of them were excited and wended their way under the starry skies to the salon. They crossed the river and heard music coming from a cabaret, but the draw of good company kept them moving. Gertrude was reading in an overstuffed chair while her best friend Alice B. Toklas was putting some sweets on a table. Paintings covered the walls of the salon, a salon where good friends would meet and enjoy themselves.
This enchanting tale of a special soirée, hosted by Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, brings the art world of early twentieth century Paris to life. Little snippets of French and easy, almost conversational portraits of the "usuals" at the soirée make this tale fun and realistic. The excitement and charm of the city are beautifully brought out by the vibrant artwork. The day in the life of friends was not only fun, but will also be a learning experience for the young art lover. In the back of the book are brief biographical sketches and photographs of the soirée participants. The charming book would be a wonderful addition to any art lover's shelves!