Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Review - A Colorful Tail: Finding Monet at Giverny

A Colorful Tail: Finding Monet at Giverny
by Joan Waites
Date: 2019
Publisher: Schiffer
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

A young red fox living in Monet's garden in Giverny, France, admires the collage of colors in the landscape that surrounds him. More than anything, he wants to make the colors last as the seasons pass and the winter turns cold and bleak. Try as he might, his creations are blown away, flooded, and even eaten by a deer, until the sight of Monet at his easel and an unexpected encounter with a bumble bee show the gentle fox how he can make the colors last all year long. This brightly illustrated tale is a delightful introduction to Claude Monet.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This book was a bit of a disappointment. When you're reading a fictionalized story about a real artist, you have certain expectations about the aesthetic of the book. This book--although it's about a real-life Impressionist--looks like any other run-of-the-mill picture book, wasting the opportunity it had to teach children about Claude Monet and his beautiful work.

I've seen this weird setup before in Allen Say's Silent Days, Silent Dreams, which tried to tell the story of an artist without including any of the man's actual work (all the art was done by the author of the book instead). I'm not a fan of this, especially when the subject is something like Impressionism; the illustrations in this book aren't even done in that style.

I also don't like the ending. I didn't have a problem with the premise for most of the book. The fox tries to gather colourful objects that he finds in the world around him to make the colours of the seasons last. But the ending took a weird turn into anthropomorphism that was neither realistic nor plausible. It pretty much ruined what could've been a fairly decent story.

This is not a good introduction to Monet. Sure, it describes his painting style, but the few pieces depicted in the illustrations are a poor example of his work. Kids who read this will have little understanding of the artist or his work, other than the fact that he painted outdoors and used small brushstrokes.

Thank you to NetGalley and Schiffer for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.33 out of 5

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