Picture Book Review: Mornings with Monet

My Top Ten Reasons to Read Mornings with Monet

Text by Barb Rosenstock; illustrated by Mary GrandPre`

Alfred A. Knopf Publishing, 2021.

Famed Impressionist painter Claude Monet lived near France’s River Seine his entire life. Barb Rosenstock, author of the new Mornings with Monet, shares that Monet painted the river more than any other subject—working on themes of “water, air, light and reflection.”

This lovely age-positive picture book is focused tightly on a series of paintings, “Mornings on the Seine,”  that Monet created in 1896-1897 when he was 56 years old.

Art by Mary Grand Pre`

Many of us know Monet’s iconic water lily pond series that followed as he grew older. I was interested to learn that he “created the pond by diverting a tributary of the Seine.”

Following are my TOP TEN REASONS TO READ MORNINGS WITH MONET:

  1. In 1896 Claude Monet is 56 years old. A boat is his studio, and he greets the dawn. Vivid scenes show him as an older man marveling at nature’s beauty—embracing the day like a gift.
  2. The vivid scenes are grounded in the moment. A fascinating way to show us how to live in the present.

“I can’t begin to describe a day

As wonderful as this.

One marvel after another.

Each lasting less than five minutes….”

Claude Monet

  1. The entire picture book chronicles only about four hours in the artist’s life. An interesting angle and valuable lesson for the rest of us who write picture book biographies.

 

  1. Gray-bearded Monet shows kids an active engaged individual who “strides around the water lily pond, through a meadow, to a rowboat in the reeds at the river’s edge.”

Art by Mary Grand Pre`

  1. Author Barb Rosenstock’s lovely, lyrical writing. She is the author of numerous  picture book biographies that I highly recommend. Look for those about Vincent Van Gogh, artist Marc Chagall and photographer Dorothea Lange among others.

 

  1. The sensuous pleasure of painting is clearly conveyed in the text by the author—“He picks up a dollop of deep purple on his brush…” Illustrator Mary GrandPré uses glowing color that will please lovers of Claude Monet’s art. This author/illustrator team has produced three previous books together.

 

  1. Monet’s earnest effort is also shown—helping young readers understand the striving and the willingness to experiment that go into creating art. He obviously challenged himself continually.

 

  1. We see Claude Monet’s skill, creativity and joy in creating enhanced by his age and experience.

Art by Mary Grand Pre`

  1. I enjoyed the mention of Claude Monet’s continuing work on his iconic water lily series for the last thirty years of his life—despite declining eyesight.

 

  1. Additional information in the impressive back matter at the end of the book is so interesting and also reveals Barb Rosenstock’s extensive research. This is detailed in her listed sources and her acknowledgements.

Activities for kids:

  • View Claude Monet’s art on the website for the Musee d’Orsay on the banks of the Seine River in Paris. Ask for the child reader to show you their favorite painting.
  • Have the child identify paintings that feature themes of “water, air, light and reflection.”
  • Ask how might being an older artist have benefitted Monet? (i.e. years of practice, life experience, travel, years of observation, patience gained, etc.)
  • Find more picture books about Claude Monet and a fun art project at the Pragmatic Mom blog
  • Read Henri’s Scissors by Jeanette Winter to learn how that artist persevered and innovated with his art in old, old age while coping with illness and disability.

I reviewed a library copy of Mornings with Monet.

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4 Responses to Picture Book Review: Mornings with Monet

  1. Patricia Nozell says:

    I hadn’t realized this fabulous author/illustrator duo had created a new picture book biography about my favorite impressionist. I almost feel like I’m back in Giverny reading your review!

    • lindseymcd says:

      How lucky you are to have visited Giverny! It’s on my list. Enjoy Barb’s gorgeous book and do a little armchair traveling! I appreciate your comment.

  2. Nancy Arick says:

    Based on the review I’ve decided to buy the book. Not sure whether for my granddaughter or myself! Looks wonderful and beautiful.

    • lindseymcd says:

      That’s fantastic to hear Nancy! The best kind of comment–thanks so much for taking to time. I’m sure you will at least read this beautiful book to your granddaughter! 😉

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