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Children's LiteratureWhen one hears the word Impressionism, the French painter Claude Monet springs to mind. He was one of the first painters who used natural light and color in an attempt to capture the essence of a scene. With this technique, Impressionism was born and it was quite revolutionary in the art world of the 1860's. Impressionist paintings are primarily landscapes; this flew in the face of convention because art had always been created indoors and depicted historical subjects. Readers will learn about the artist and art history to be sure; but will also learn quite a bit about world history as well in this superb volume. Photographs of Monet's vibrant work are stunning here and complement the text nicely. Each chapter deals with an important period in the artist's life; a paragraph summarizes that period, followed by smaller sections detailing relevant information. In the page spread entitled "Wartime," readers learn that Monet marries shortly before the Franco-Russian war. The artist and his wife escape to London during the war; there he painted many pictures of the Thames River. Concise details about the Franco-Russian war and the Paris Community (rioting in the capital that forced the government to flee to Versailles for several months) provide readers with a sense of the turbulence in Monet's country when he was a newlywed. Monet loved to travel and was very sociable. He was a contemporary of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edouard Manet, Alfred Sisley, and Eugene Boudin. The Impressionists resisted criticism of their work, and forged the way for other innovative artists. Monet lived long enough to experience the acclaim he richly deserved. He continued to paint in his 80s, even after his eyesightfailed. A glossary and index are found at the back of this engrossing title, which is one in the publisher's "Lives of the Artists" series. This book will appeal to any student interested in art; it is also likely to spark an interest where none currently exists. 2005, World Almanac Library, Ages 10 up.
—Jeanne K. Pettenati, J.D.