Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Paintings that Smile

Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Paintings that Smile

True Kelley
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Penguin, 2005   ISBN: 978-0448438191

Winter is writing her report on the famous French painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir. She is interested in him because she has seen one of his pictures on the front of her piano music book. The picture shows two girls at a piano. One of them is playing and the other is looking on. The picture makes Winter "feel better" when she is discouraged or worried about her playing. In general Renoir’s paintings have a feeling of happiness about them which Winter appreciates.

In her report Winter tells the reader all about Renoir’s life, from the time when he was a little boy to the time he was an old man. Winter shows the reader how Renoir was one of a number of painters who were breaking new ground in the art world because they painted pictures that showed everyday scenes and people, they used a lot of color, and they captured the essence of a scene instead of painting every last detail.

What Winter seems to like best of all was that Renoir kept on making happy, joyous pictures even though his life was hard. No one wanted to buy his pieces and often his work got bad reviews. Renoir never gave up - Renoir painted what he wanted to and hoped that at some time people would appreciate what he was trying to do.

Funny, child-like annotated illustrations, reproductions of some of Renoir’s famous works, and loud boisterous headlines and titles gives this little book the genuine feel of a child’s school report. It is easy to read and Winter makes Renoir’s story interesting and accessible.