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Spend a Day with Monet

Heck, I’ll spend a day with Monet! You can too with this one-of-a-kind book, Monet Paints a Day ($16.95, Charlesbridge, Ages 6-9) Author Julie Dannenberg portrays a day in the life of Monet, one of the most celebrated of all Impressionist painters. The book is written in the first person from the perspective of Monet himself, as he describes where he is, what he sees and how he paints on one special day on the French seaside in 1885. It seems very realistic and is extremely informative. In addition to the interesting thoughts of Monet, there are small information boxes throughout the book giving intriguing details about how Monet painted and worked with light and glimpses into his personality (not all wonderful traits either!)

The watercolor illustrations by artist Caitlin Heimerl are colorful, wispy and perfectly fitting for the story.  In the back of the book is an author’s note with information about Monet and what inspired the her to write the story.

I love the fact that this book gives young readers an inside track to the painter’s life. It’s one thing to understand that a man was an artist, and yet another to understand how he worked and how much effort it took to get his paintings just the way he wanted them. Teaching kids that excellence takes time, patience and persistence is a wonderful thing, and Monet Paints a Day is a wonderful book.

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New Ways We Can Learn on Wednesday


Today Good Reads With Ronna is excited to introduce a new weekly educational products review. We’re all over these great games, toys, books, DVDs and CDs that NAPPA(National Parenting Publications Awards) has agreed for us to use.  If you’d like to learn more about NAPPA, visit their website, like their Facebook page and keep stopping by here on Wednesdays for more interesting new products for your children and the entire family. Today’s product reviews comes courtesy of Julie Kertes, NAPPA General Manager.

Master Kitz®; $29; Ages 4 to 12;

Give your children an early appreciation of art with Master Kitz® by Kidzaw. These kits include everything needed to re-create masterpieces such as Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night or Sunflowers, Gustav Klimt’s The Tree of Life, Monet’s Water Lilies and Hokusai’s The Great Wave of Kanagwa.  The re-usable art toolbox contains paints, a specially designed roller, re-usable stencil, art paper, educational materials and easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions. Children will learn about each painting and its history and be encouraged to create their own interpretation of each masterpiece.

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Starry Night: Sophisticated Art Books are for Kids, Too

Today Debbie Glade reviews an extraordinary art book for children.

Van Gogh is my favorite artist of all time, as one could easily tell by the six Van Gogh prints I have hanging on my walls at home. Ah, if only I could afford to buy the original paintings!

Van Gogh and the Post-Impressionists for Kids: Their Lives and Ideas, 21 Activities for Kids ($17.99, Chicago Review Press, Ages 9 and up) by Carol Sabbeth is treasure chest of fascinating information as well as a visual masterpiece of colorful paintings by Van Gogh and other artists of the Post-Impressionist era.

The idea for this book came to the author after a 10-year-old boy asked her, “Were Monet and Van Gogh ever friends?” The result of that question is what can best be described as a young reader’s version of a collectible coffee table art book. Readers will learn about Van Gogh’s life, how he came to be an artist, other artists he interacted with during his life and how his many personal challenges affected his work. It is informative and engaging – written so children can thoroughly understand it, yet adults can thoroughly enjoy it.

As with all other Chicago Review Press Kids biographies, there are 21 unique activities in this book for readers to dive into, such as making a value scale of light, medium and dark shades, drawing a mirror image, creating a self-portrait in swirling words and making a pointillist sailboat. These activities are so awesome that I may just try one or two myself. In the back of the book you’ll find a map of the paths of post-impressionists, a useful glossary and bibliography.

Van Gogh and the Post-Impressionists for Kids should be a fixture in all classrooms from 4th grade through middle school. It would also be a perfect holiday gift for creative children who love to draw and paint. This is a book that will be cherished for years to come. I envy the author and editor for having had the chance to do this fascinating research and sort through all these amazing images of some of the greatest pieces of art ever created.

Image of Stary Night is in the public domain.
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