Claude Monet: The Painter Who Stopped the Trains

Overview

Young readers will learn how Claude Monet came to paint trains as well as how he forever changed the minds of critics about his art and about the Impressionists in general. When his nine-year-old son raves over trains passing by in the countryside, Monet wishes his own art could excite critics as much as trains captivate his son. The book explains his painting technique, how critics viewed him and the other Impressionists, and how he came to paint trains.

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Overview

Young readers will learn how Claude Monet came to paint trains as well as how he forever changed the minds of critics about his art and about the Impressionists in general. When his nine-year-old son raves over trains passing by in the countryside, Monet wishes his own art could excite critics as much as trains captivate his son. The book explains his painting technique, how critics viewed him and the other Impressionists, and how he came to paint trains.

Jos. A. Smith’s beautiful illustrations are paired with P. I. Maltbie’s comprehensive text to create an inspiring tale of Monet. The book also includes an author’s note, reproductions of some of Monet’s paintings, a time line, a list of North American museums that house Monet’s paintings, a bibliography, and an index.

"A handsome and child-friendly introduction to the Impressionist master. The narrative works well, and much information is thoughtfully, accessibly presented." –Kirkus Reviews 

"Smith expertly illuminates the changing landscape of an evolving world, as Maltbie's thoughtful story of inspiration and imagination highlights a less remembered portion of Monet's work." –Publishers Weekly

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Inspired by his son's love of trains, Monet decided to show art critics that impressionism could be more than just seascapes. For three months in 1877, he painted on the platform of the Saint-Lazare train station in Paris, capturing the angles, colors, smoke, and light of the modern age. Smith expertly illuminates the changing landscape of an evolving world, as Maltbie's thoughtful story of inspiration and imagination highlights a less remembered portion of Monet's work. Ages 5-9. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
From his home in Argenteuil, Monet watched trains puffing by and traveled on them to Paris. What could be a more exciting metaphor for a modern city in the 1870s than steam locomotives? For today's young art-lovers, Maltbie has dramatized Pierre-Auguste Renoir's famous story of how Monet's paintings at Paris's Gare Saint-Lazare train station came to be. She includes Monet's young son Jean as part of the inspiration, given a boost by a visit from friends Renoir and Gustave Caillebotte, who are planning an exhibition in the spring. Imagining a smoke- and steam-filled station as a "dream world," Monet decides to paint at the busy Gare Saint-Lazare with its overhead glass panels; his flattery of the station's director gains permission to use a platform and gives author and artist an opportunity for comedy in the person of a grossly fat and obsequious official. Despite complaints from irate passengers, Monet paints furiously as the director holds up trains for him. The result is Monet's seven paintings of steam billowing through the Gare, reflecting light under different conditions—exhibited in 1877, the series was a major success. Maltbie concludes with Monet, Renoir, and Caillebotte glowing with pride as they visit the exhibit; the happy Monet family returns to Argenteuil, seen off by the bowing director. Maltbie provides further information in an endnote, as does artist Smith, whose engaging watercolors bring the characters to vivid life (Monet's hair and beard are still a bright brown) as well as the bustling city, the costumes, and the trains. A list of museums holding paintings by Monet offers the possibility of field trips for those living nearby. Young artists might also enjoy seeing images of two paintings by Monet's friend Caillebotte of the striking Pont de l'Europe located near the Gare Saint-Lazare. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—A fictionalized account of Monet's son's enthusiasm for trains serves as the inspiration for the artist's real-life endeavor to paint steam engines arriving and departing the Gare Saint-Lazare, capturing the light and atmospheric conditions at various times of day. Along with a lively telling of how Monet convinced the station's director to delay departures so he could paint, the thoroughly researched narrative provides an introduction to the Impressionist style, emphasizing that it was radically different from the realistic paintings favored at the time. Large, Impressionist-inspired watercolors complement the text, allowing readers to examine individual brush strokes and consider what sets Impressionism apart from other artistic styles. The book's art historical details combined with its vivid illustrations make it an appealing read-aloud. This title is also an accessible option for biography reports, though its scope focuses on a particular moment in Monet's career, rather than a life story. End pages include author's and artist's notes and a guide to Monet's paintings in U.S. and Canadian museums. While this book may not hold wide appeal for a casual audience, it is a solid choice for academic use.—Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews

A handsome and child-friendly introduction to the Impressionist master. Maltbie wisely avoids the default, late-career Monet's water-lilies-at-Giverny story and focuses instead on a more robust and aesthetically transformational incident: Monet's desire to produce his very first series of paintings. These paintings displayed the "impressionistic" interplay of light, color and mood in their depiction of steam engines in Paris's Gare Saint-Lazare in the winter of 1877. This series of paintings inspired his fellow painters and also gained critical kudos. While the author admits to fictionalizing Monet's inspiration (his nine-year-old son's love of trains), the narrative works well, and much information is thoughtfully, accessibly presented. Smith's detailed and carefully worked watercolors are well integrated, and (save the jarringly comic caricature of the stationmaster) the illustrator smartly handles the problem of representing Monet's aesthetic while remaining true to his own unique style. Admirable. (author's note,reproductions ofMonet's work,index/glossary, list of Monet paintings in U.S./Canadian collections, illustrator's note) (Picture book. 5-9)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810989610
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/2010
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,010,962
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

P. I. Maltbie writes biographical stories and articles focusing on issues related to disabilities. She lives in Long Beach, California.

Jos. A. Smith is a well-known illustrator of children’s books, including Gregor Mendel. He is a professor of fine arts at Pratt Institute. He lives in Easton, Pennsylvania. Visit him at www.josasmith.com.

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