Bijou Le Tord’s A Blue Butterfly: A Story About Claude Monet is a lovely book about an artist she describes as someone who “could see things in a way no one else could.” The text is written in spare free verse that runs along the edges of the large illustrations. Le Tord juxtaposes short lines and small stanzas with rich vocabulary and graceful similes.
For example, some of the text on the first page reads,
Since this book’s text is poetry, it begs to be read aloud. Though children may not appreciate the figurative language the way adults will, young listeners can benefit from hearing different kinds of poetry. The free verse in this book contrasts with the rhyming poems many children are used to hearing.
The illustrations in this book are special. Before she created this book, Bijou Le Tord visited France to see Monet’s garden in Giverny and some of his paintings in Paris. The illustrations in A Blue Butterfly: A Story About Claude Monet are painted in an Impressionist style that mimics the artist’s. Some pages replicate his best-known works, including his paintings of the Japanese footbridge in his garden and the Water Lilies paintings. Le Tord created her illustrations with the same eight paint colors Monet used almost exclusively late in his life. These colors have names like cadmium yellow dark and vermilion. She also incorporated a few other colors, including some that Monet used earlier in his life (burnt sienna and cobalt blue). Adults could help children understand Impressionist painting technique by having them look at the pictures in this book up-close and then from farther away. It’s amazing that beautiful scenery can be made from lots of little blobs and smears of color. The poetry and paintings work together to create a picture book that is itself a work of art. A Blue Butterfly: A Story About Claude Monet is ideal for quiet sharing during a family read-aloud session.
Check the WRL catalog for A Blue Butterfly: A Story About Claude Monet.