cover image A Party for Florine: Florine Stettheimer and Me

A Party for Florine: Florine Stettheimer and Me

Yevgenia Nayberg. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8234-5410-5

A young artist visiting a museum feels an immediate connection upon encountering a self-portrait by modernist artist Florine Stettheimer (1871–1944) in this biographical picture book. There’s an uncanny resemblance between the two, who are both Jewish, and the child wonders if Stettheimer’s family also tended to “talk at the same time, waving hands at each other.” As the youth learns more about Stettheimer’s life and art, mixed-media images by Nayberg (I Hate Borsch!) pay homage to the artist’s distinctive aesthetic (“Everything Florine painted danced and sang on a canvas”). Festive, translucent colors, swooping shapes, and floating figures depict an individual who embodied a free creative spirit and Jazz Age style, hosting cosmopolitan salons frequented by the likes of Marcel Duchamp. Inspired by Stettheimer’s life and extensively imagining hosting a party for her (“I would serve:/ Blue pancakes./ Orange jelly beans”), the child realizes that, far from being a gloomy place, “the world around me is full of color and full of surprise.” A walk outdoors reveals that there’s even poetry and joy in a squirrel scavenging a cinnamon bagel, suggesting that this book’s witty subject is a more than worthwhile muse. Characters are portrayed with various skin tones. An author’s note concludes. Ages 4–8. Agent: Anna Olswanger, Olswanger Literary. (July)