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*Once Upon a Lily Pad: Froggy Love in Monet's Garden* by Joan Sweeney, illustrated by Kathleen Fain

Once Upon a Lily Pad: Froggy Love in Monet's Garden
by Joan Sweeney, illustrated by Kathleen Fain
ages 4-8 32 pages Chronicle Books July 2005 Hardcover    

“I now pronounce you frog and wife.” So begins the charming tale of two frogs who inhabit Claude Monet’s lily pond. As their love story plays out, so does the work of the brilliant Impressionist artist. Hector and Henriette believe they are the subjects of the paintings, as the old man in the straw hat sets up his easel every day and paints a variety of views of the lush gardens he has created.

They don’t mind posing, not really, but eventually get bored and spend their time raising their new tadpoles. Their complaints are rudely interrupted by a crow, who inserts himself into the conversation to announce that it is he, not the frogs, that the old man is painting. Of course, the frogs find such an idea outrageous and make no bones about telling the crow what they think of his pretensions.

The crow flies down and snatches up the newly born tadpoles, shocking the frogs into silence before the matter can be settled. But the old painter sees this and quickly throws a stone at the crow, freeing the tadpoles and settling the question once and for all. Thankful for the respite for their small but growing family, the frogs are content once more to pose for the painter. They do so for many years, until one year the old man doesn’t return and they realize this blissful time in their lives has ended.

Kathleen Fain has created a series of delightful illustrations, as the frogs prop themselves on lily pads, hopping from page to page. In colors as vivid as the Impressionists’ palette, a young reader can easily imagine a frog or two tucked among the petals. After the last page is a gatefold of Monet’s “Water Lilies,” a sample of the master’s work. A perfect introduction to the world of art, Monet’s canvases full of the energy and passion of the Impressionist school, this small, bright volume is a welcome addition to a child’s study of art in our daily lives. Told from the viewpoint of two happy frogs and their tadpoles, children may discover a wonderful artist who never tired of his garden and the variety it offered to his palette.

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  Luan Gaines/2005 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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