Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Claude Monet: The Painter Who Stopped the Trains

Claude Monet: The Painter Who Stopped the Trains

P.I. Maltbie
Illustrator:  Jos A. Smith 
Historical Fiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 9
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2010   ISBN: 978-0810989610

Claude Monet is a painter who has a problem; his paintings are not being well received by the critics and the public. Rather than painting very precise and realistic pictures showing “an event from history or from a myth or legend,” Monet likes to paint outdoor scenes so that he can explore the effect of light on his subjects. He likes to paint in bold bright colors in a style that people are calling “Impressionistic.” Monet does not like being called an Impressionist, but he refuses to change his style of painting to suit what is currently in vogue.

Monet is going to be participating in a new exhibition in Paris in a few months time and he is not sure what he should paint. Then he notices that his son Jean gets very excited when he sees a train chugging its way across the countryside. Perhaps he should paint some trains for the exhibition. He could create paintings that show “a modern city scene. A view of Paris today, but filled with steam and smoke!”

Carefully Monet chooses the train station in Paris that best suits his purposes. He rents an apartment to use as a studio. Then, dressed in his very best suit, Monet goes to visit the director of the train station. Monet is going to need his cooperation if he is going to get the scenes he needs to create his series of paintings.

In this fascinating picture book, P.I. Maltbie takes her readers into Claude Monet’s world, showing children how Monet had to struggle to get his art accepted. Through her narrative, children will learn how Monet created his famous train paintings. The author’s engaging and accessible text is perfectly complimented by Jos. A. Smith’s Impressionistic style illustrations.

At the back of the book, readers will find an Author’s Note full of further information about Claude Monet, a list of some of Monet’s paintings, and an Artist’s note.