Debut author Yolleck introduces Gertrude Stein and her coterie—Picasso, Max Jacobs, Apollinaire (plus assorted girlfriends)—spicing her account with gossip and asides (“Pardonnez-moi
, excuse me. I must interrupt for just a moment to tell you that these sketches are of Apollinaire and their friends Pablo and Fernande”). Apollinaire watches an acrobat and gets an idea for a poem, Max Jacob writes comic verse, Gertrude chats with Alice B. Toklas; the evening soirée that the narrative takes as its focus isn’t as important as the ordinary ways these extraordinary artists spend their days. The exuberant spreads by Priceman (How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A.
), scratched and scrabbled in ink and splashed with scarlets, yellows, and blues, showcase the streets of Paris with thoroughly Gallic charm. In his studio, Picasso squeezes black oil paint onto his palette while, across town, Stein passes the hours before her party curled up in an armchair, reading. Intelligently written and illustrated with élan, it’s the next step up for Francophile children who have graduated from Babar and Madeline. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)