Friday, March 1, 2013

Madeleine's Light

Madeleine’s Light
By Natalie Ziarnik; illustrated by Robert Dunn
32 pages; ages 5-7
Boyds Mills Press, 2012
It is the late 1890’s, and Madeleine is waiting, waiting for the artist to arrive at her family’s chateau. Finally, a team of horses pulls up. But when the artist steps out of the carriage, Madeleine sees only a scowling young woman in a long black coat.

This Camille Claudel, the famous sculptor who has come to work at the chateau, far from the distractions of Paris. Madeleine, who wants to be an artist herself, watches the sculptor at work. Camille takes her out to collect clay, and teaches her to look for the light inside the people she would sculpt.

Though fiction, the story is grounded in history: Claudel did stay at the Chateau de l’Islette over a few summers, and may have been inspired by the landlady’s granddaughter, Madeleine. This period seems to have been a turning point in Claudel’s artistic life; she sought to capture more than just the outlines of a person’s face.

Review copy provided by publisher.

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