It’s a sunlit morning in Étretat, France, and Claude Monet is on his way to the beach. He has packed paints and palette, brushes and canvases, easel and stool, and he is off to try his hand at the massive stone arch — the Manneporte.
Monet pauses a moment to absorb the scene around him — the water, the rocks, the sand — and most of all, the light. Monet is captivated by the way light reflects on water or rock or cloud, producing dancing, swizzling, fragmenting, ever-changing colors. As a painter, he is determined to capture his impressions of this interplay of light on the scenes before him. Since the light constantly changes, through movement of the sun, cloud cover, atmospheric changes, Monet never has long to paint each precise moment. He works furiously. He concentrates enormously.
And that’s the reason for a mighty big surprise for Monsieur Monet on this particular outing! But I won’t spoil it for you!
Julie Danneberg has written an entirely engaging account of a true incident in Monet’s life. Her story is not long on words, but packs in a terrific mix of sensory detail and vivid particulars of Monet’s personality. Additionally, in small asides, she fills us in on numerous interesting facts about Monet’s methods. I never knew, for example, how few minutes at a shot he would work on a particular canvas before moving on to another when the light changed. Quite fascinating.
A concluding Author’s Note gives a few more biographical details on Monet, and two pages of further information on his painting techniques will intrigue upper-elementary through adult readers.
Caitlin Heimerl has beautifully illustrated the book with her watercolors. She captures the quaint French seaside town and the blue-smocked Monet, the sun-dappled rocky cliffs and ocean, using a style that perfectly suits the
subject. It’s a very appealing book, full of airy, light spaces, swimming in blues and glowing with golden sunlight.
There are lots of books on Monet for young children; this one is a stand-out. The main story is wonderfully suited to early-elementary age children, with the additional information on Monet creating a highly interesting read for all ages.
Here’s an Amazon link: Monet Paints a Day