In my early thirties, having read much about the Impressionists and seen as many of their paintings as I could, I finally made it to Giverny. The village was sleepy, blanketed with a mellow peacefulness. It was a hot and hazy July day, perfect for the gardens which were remarkably tranquil aside from a gaggle of Americans taking ownership of the famous bridge. Reading this book, I was transported back to that day.

Daniel Fehr tells the story of a young American girl, Ella, whose artist father has transported the family across the Atlantic from the USA, believing that all artists should visit Paris. From there, the family visits Normandy, specifically the village of Giverny where the world-famous artist Claude Monet lives and paints. Ella’s father is starstruck and won’t go to visit M. Monet but Ella creeps into his garden and starts sketching what she sees there. Monet discovers her and encourages her to draw as he tells her his art life story.

As you’d expect the book is profusely illustrated. I think I’ve said before how much I’m in awe of an artist who can illustrate a story about another painter. Monika Vaicenaviciene’s pictures here are obviously of scenes Monet painted and sometimes of his paintings themselves. They immediately shout Monet! but they are not simply copies or pastiches. Somehow they capture the style and spirit of the great Impressionist.

The subtitle of Ella in the Garden of Giverny is a picture book about Claude Monet. But, be clear, this is not for very young children as we would normally consider such a book to be. Think of it, rather, as an illustrated book about Claude Monet. Think about it and then go and buy yourself a copy. It’s beautiful.

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