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*Paris in the Spring with Picasso* by Joan Yolleck, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
Also illustrated by Marjorie Priceman:

The Blue Ribbon Day
Paris in the Spring with Picasso
by Joan Yolleck, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
Grades 2+ 40 pages Schwartz and Wade March 2010 Hardcover    

“Every Saturday, no matter what the season, Gertrude and Leo hold a soirée, an evening party.”
Joan Yolleck transports readers to the home of American writer Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo at 27 rue de Fleurus in Paris. It is springtime at the beginning of the 20th century, and her famous guests are preparing for the evening.

Who is on the guest list? How are they spending their day? Guillaume Apollinaire, the writer who coined the phrase “surrealism,” strolls down the avenues of Paris and watches an acrobat performing. This gives him an idea for a poem. Max Jacob writes a story about his father’s tailor shop in his apartment “in a tumbledown building he named the Bateau-lavoir, the Wash-boat.” Upstairs, his friend the artist Pablo Picasso is working on the painting “Two Nudes.”

As electric streetlights go on, the guests start to arrive at Gertrude’s salon. Her best friend, Alice B. Toklas, prepares cakes for guests who mix and mingle and enjoy the evening.

This book will attract readers in later elementary and high school classes who want to learn about the city of Paris, French culture in the early 20th century, and the writers and artists who came to Gertrude Stein’s soirées. They will be introduced to the streets of Paris, with its acrobats, musicians and circus performers. The constant activity of the avenues is reflected in the action-paced illustrations which spread across the pages of this intriguing picture book.

The illustrations are colorful and eclectic. Marjorie Priceman visited Paris in order to sketch the places described in this picture book. The beauty of the Luxembourg Garden, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Eiffel Tower jump off the page because of the electric red, yellow and blue colors she uses.

Although she portrays stick figures, the people of Paris and Gertrude Stein’s guests seem very realistic while they spend a busy day preparing for the evening’s festivities. The city of Paris itself becomes a character in the story as the images of this beautiful city jump off the page.

Although this is Joan Yolleck’s first children’s book, her publishing industry experience is obvious. Yolleck lives in Toronto and reviews children’s books. The illustrator, Marjorie Priceman, has illustrated two Caldecott Honor books and resides in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. In Paris in the Spring with Picasso, Yolleck has captured the beauty and magic of Paris in the springtime. Readers will wish they were there!

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