Book Reviews

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The Magical Garden of Claude Monet by Laurence Anholt

Beauty twice over. The beauty of the subject, and the beauty of the writing. Laurence Anholt, a gifted painter in his own right, has created a series of books on the great European painters. Each story is delicately told; the reader is transported to the world the painter lived in-a different time, almost a different space. Each story has its base in a true incident in the painter's life. Anholt takes off from there, takes us into a world we may not have known about.

Monet painted gardens and bridges and haystacks. Most of them were painted in the Giverny, the magical garden that young Julie visits, and that we get to visit through the story. Anholt's illustrations do justice to the subject. The full-page spread with just a sentence fragment faithfully captures the colors of the French countryside.

Julie's dog Louey gets away from her, running "down the hill and into a lane where a huge wall stood around a mysterious garden." Through the break in the gate she follows Louey, straight into this "dreamy world"--the magical garden of Claude Monet. As Julie had followed her dog, we follow her, through the garden, the pond where the water lilies grow, the bridge, all of which Monet has recreated in his paintings. Anholt's illustrations take us into that wonderful world.

We hear about his fading eyesight and are saddened, for what is more important to a painter than the ability to see? Young Julie reminds him of his own philosophy: "You will need to be very patient, like a gardner."

The back matter tells us of Monet "insisting that the house run like clockwork." It takes just one sentence in the story to reveal that facet of his being. "Six o'clock precisely," he said. "Time to eat."

With sparse words and wonderful illustrations the author paints a picture of a great artist.

Title: The Magical Garden of Claude Monet

Author: Laurence Anholt

Illustrator: Laurence Anholt

Publisher: Barrons Educational Series

Hardback: 24 pages

ISBN: 978-0-7641-5574-1