I was first introduced to Julie Danneburg's work with the book First Day Jitters, illustrated by Judith Dufour Love, the perfect companion for anyone starting school or the first day at a new school! It's delightfully funny and engaging with the ideal surprise ending. If you missed reading it, visit your library for a copy or pick up the book from your favorite indie bookstore. It's worth finding!
So I'm not the least bit surprised to be entertained and carried away in Danneburg's rendition of a day in the life of Claude Monet while he was vacationing in Étretat, France in 1885 with Monet Paints A Day. It's by far one of my favorite nonfiction books of 2012, and I'm happy to see it honored by the 2013 Zolotow Award committee as Highly Commended.
To quote Danneburg from the book, "Like a string of ducklings," we follow Claude Monet and a "gaggle of children" with canvases, paint box and palette as he leaves his hotel ready to paint the day. Danneburg takes us on a journey zigzagging along cliff paths and trudging across a rocky beach to reach the strip of sand where Monet paints The Manneport along with many more scenes. Like the illustrations, her prose is art and the author's note and instructions on painting techniques at the back of the book are rich with educational details, an additional gift for the reader to delve deeper. Sprinkled throughout the book are Monet's letters and words to his fiancee, Alice Hoschedé in which he wrote about his painting progress and his frustrations at capturing the scene before the light changed.
The rumbling waves explode a warning at my feet, but I can't stop painting. Not now. "Faster, faster, only a few more minutes to catch this light," I mutter to myself.
It's storytelling at its finest as Danneburg places us on that beach with brush in hand, waves lapping at our feet and a broken canvas in the end. The entire book is an album of art, the illustrations masterful, emotional and personal using an extraordinary palette of colors similar to Monet's own brushstrokes. I highly recommend this book for your library, classroom or studio.