By Evie Robillard & Rachel Katstaller (Kids Can Press)
ISBN: 978-1-5253-0056-1 (HB)
We donâ€™t cover nearly enough kidsâ€™ books here, nor those with an Arts or educational underpinning, and thatâ€™s because I lazily prefer to read stuff thatâ€™s entertaining, worthwhile and well-produced. And yes, I know theyâ€™re not necessarily mutually exclusive but somehow, so oftenâ€¦
Happily, this gloriously inclusive biographical primer into one of the worldâ€™s most interesting and accomplished women and her life partner is all of that and more.
Delivered as a delicious and enthralling picture book for 6 to 9-year-olds, A Portrait in Poems prÃ©cisâ€™ and shares some notable Parisian moments in the life of author Gertrude Stein and her muse Alice B. Toklas. This unconventional couple led the upcoming arts glitterati of Europe and collected one of the most astounding art collections in history prior to one World War and before another. The book is drafted in episodic free verse by librarian, teacher and writer Evie Robillard and painted with idyllic verve by El Salvadoran illustrator Rachel Katstaller in a superbly subtle manner guaranteed to get youngsters addicted to learning more.
In short order youâ€™ll visit the protagonistsâ€™ first home at â€˜27 Rue de Fleurusâ€™, observe as â€˜Picasso Paints a Portraitâ€™, share â€˜Saturday Eveningsâ€™ and enjoy â€˜The Room with All the Paintingsâ€™ before meeting â€˜Gertrude Stein, the Geniusâ€™â€¦
The couple shared their exalted existence with â€˜A Dog Named Basketâ€™ (two actually) and we see more of them all in â€˜Gertrude & Alice & Basket in a Bookâ€™ before wrapping up the history with what happened â€˜Afterâ€™â€¦
Adding learning and lustre a â€˜Time Lineâ€™ supplies dates and hard facts, while glimpses of character shine in a trio of epigrammatic â€˜Snapshotsâ€™, whilst â€˜Sourcesâ€™ offers some of Gertrudeâ€™s best works to check out and a bibliography reveals more books about her, before a final â€˜Authorâ€™s Noteâ€™ deals with the contentious period when the couple abided under Nazi occupation in Vichy France.
Itâ€™s never too early to give children a hunger to know stuff, and this bright, inclusive foray into the mind and life of one of our most remarkable thinkers is a welcome addition to any junior library or kidsâ€™ book stash because it simply cries out for readers to go absorb moreâ€¦
Text Â© 2020 Evie Robillard. Â© 2020 Rachel Katstaller. All rights reserved.