Grades K-3 This is the fictionalized account of sculptor Camille Claudel’s summers spent at a French chateau with young Madeleine Boyer and her grandmother. At first, Claudel is standoffish, but Grand-mere rationalizes her temperament by saying, It is rare that a woman becomes a talented sculptor. Claudel is not the only spirited one, and soon Madeleine is visiting her with cups of cafe au lait and creating a sculpture of her own: a bird for Grand-mere’s birthday. Meanwhile, Claudel is moved by la lumiere, or the light, emanating from Madeleine to create a bust of the girl. According to an author’s note, Madeleine served as the inspiration for Claudel’s most famous creation, La petite chatelaine (The Little Lady), which is housed at the Musee Rodin, in Paris. Since little is known about Madeleine’s life, debut author Ziarnik imagines her close relationship with Claudel during glorious summers, and she is helped along by Dunn’s pencil-and-watercolor illustrations, which play with light and shadow to effectively capture the French countryside. Includes a glossary of French terms.
Publishers Weekly (05/21/2012):
Ziarnik creates a fictionalized account of a friendship between sculptor Claudel (1864-1943) and a young girl. Herself a budding artist, Madeleine Boyer eagerly awaits the arrival of Claudel to her grandmother’s chateau outside Tours, France. Though the brooding woman in shabby clothing is not what Madeleine expects, the two develop a tender relationship. Dunn’s expressive watercolor and pencil illustrations are characterized by shadows, somber facial expressions, and uneasy yellow-greens that allude to Claudel’s later mental instability. Despite such hints of darkness, it’s a touching story of two kindred spirits and the often-solitary creative process. Ages 5-up.
TriState Reviews (11/11/12)
This is the beautifully told and illustrated story of the artist Camille Claudel and her friendship with a small girl who inspired her to try to capture the souls of her subjects in her sculptures. Camille goes to a small chateau looking for some rest and a place where she could work quietly. To her surprise she encounters the granddaughter of the owner of the chateau, who had a brightness inside of her, a spirit that Camille wants to capture in her sculpture. They form a friendship, and while little Madeline works on a miniature sculpture of a bird, a gift for her grandmother, Camille is using her as a model.
It is the sculpture of the little girl that changes the direction of the artist’s work and leads her to try to capture the souls of her subjects. In reality, little is known of the little girl who inspired the artist. Magna Diaz
Beautiful and vivid water-color pictures create a magical story.
Article in Daily Herald, June 7, 2012 https://www.dailyherald.com/article/20120607/news/706079917/photos/AR/
Article in Lake Zurich Patch, July 16, 2012
Through the Looking Glass Children’s Book Reviews