Open up Claire’s journal and go back to 1893 Giverny,
France. An invitation arrives in the mail for Charlotte and her family from the famous American Impressionist, Mary Cassatt. She has asked the family to be guests at her exhibition in Paris.
Life in Giverny is wonderful. Charlotte paints, spends time with her friend Lizzy, and tends to the garden. Charlotte also likes to keep an eye on her neighbor,
Monet, who is building a water garden in his yard. French culture
abounds in this book. Claire has a tutor, and readers can learn French words along with Claire. The family dines on French cuisine, such as Tarte Tatin for dessert. Claire even pastes a recipe for Cherry Clafoutis inside her journal.
Claire continues to experience French culture in Paris.
She stays by the Seine and the Eiffel Tower. She travels by horse, and by train,
and she spends time at the market and the café. Claire also visits many famous sites in Paris
- she goes to the Louvre, where she sees people painting pictures of the paintings! Going to the opera, a horse race, and a marionette show keep her very busy, too. Charlotte stays in Paris over the winter. The family travels by sleigh one night to get to dinner, and for Christmas, Charlotte receives ice skates. January sees Charlotte and her family back in Giverny, where she’s given a special present by Monet.
Inside her journal, Claire has painted pictures and labeled them in French. There are also several museum reproductions in
her journal. Art by Monet, Renoir, and Degas are graces its
pages. Information about each piece is given at the end of the book, along with a more detailed biography of the artists mentioned. Although Claire is a fictionalized young girl, her journal is based on historical facts.
Claire likes to scrapbook in her journal. She presses memories, keepsakes like the invitation from Mary Cassatt, various photographs and even a homemade map. In addition, she takes sections of her text and paints them. The paintings of her poppies, her dog, and the market bring her words to life
Joan MacPhail Knight and illustrator Melissa Sweet have created an
authentic-feeling, entertaining book. The font and the thickness and color of the paper lend a genuine feel to the book. Children will love the mixed media collages and watercolor paintings inside. They will feel like they
are really turning the pages of Claire’s journal.