A Portrait in Poems: The Storied Life of Gertrude Stein & Alice B. Toklas

Evie Robillard, illus. by Rachel Katstaller. Kids Can, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-5253-0056-1
The story begins in the middle: the middle of the Jardin du Luxembourg, at “an eight-sided pond/ where you can rent a tiny sailboat/ and set it adrift over and over again.” And in the middle of Stein’s adulthood, in the early 1900s at her home around the corner from the garden. Through eight short chapters, each marked with a Stein quote, Robillard elliptically traces the contours of Stein’s adulthood: the portrait of her that Picasso painted, her “word portraits” and long life beside Alice B. Toklas (“a tiny, dark-haired woman... Alice would ask you lots of questions/ in her quick, quiet voice”), and their eventual deaths. Robillard eventually asserts Stein’s genius—“Gertrude Stein was much, much more/ than a collector of paintings/ or a nibbler of tea cakes”—but Stein’s brilliance, as ever, is difficult to convey, though this introduction to the figure and her partner charms. Katstaller deploys gouache, colored pencil, and graphite in blues and greens, mustards and roses, to sketch art salons and garden idylls; supplemental materials add extra biographical detail and context. Ages 6–9. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/02/2020
Release date: 03/03/2020
Genre: Children's
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