Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Madeleine's Light: A Story of Camille Claudel

Madeleine's Light: A Story of Camille Claudel

Natalie Ziarnik
Illustrator:  Robert Dunn 
Historical Fiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 9
Boyds Mills Press, 2012   ISBN: 978-1590788554

When Camille Claudel, the sculptor, comes to stay in Grand-mere’s house, Madeleine gets very excited. Madeleine discovers that Camille is a private person who just wants to work in peace, and it soon becomes clear that all is not well with Camille. She is not happy with the sculptures that she is making. Then one day the girl and sculptor meet, and Camille realizes what is missing from her art; the sculptures are lacking a sense of inner light.

Madeleine wants to make a sculpture of a little bird for her grandmother and she asks Camille for help. The little girl and the artist work together, the child creating a little clay bird, and the woman creating a bust of a little girl. At one point, Madeleine gets frustrated because the bird’s beak does not look right. Camille suggests that they take a break, and outside in the garden Madeleine figures out what is wrong with her little bird sculpture.

Though much of this story is mostly fictional, the author manages to incorporate real information about Camille Claudel into the tale. We come to appreciate how the sculptor worked, what inspired her, and how a little girl helped her to find what she needed to make her art works exceptional and complete.