cover image The Country Artist: A Story about Beatrix Potter

The Country Artist: A Story about Beatrix Potter

David R. Collins. Carolrhoda Books, $22.6 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-87614-344-5

The Victorian childhood and upbringing of Beatrix Potter is potentially of much interest to middle-graders who were nourished in their early years by her Peter Rabbit stories. Because she and her family were hoarders, some of the earliest sketchbooks, letters, photographs and Potter's famous coded diaries are extant; as the recent Pierpont Morgan Library exhibition revealed, much is known of the influences on her life. Unfortunately, this account from the Creative Minds series relies heavily--and unnecessarily--on fictionalized dialogue and situations. Collins does not portray what was evidently an engaging relationship between the very young Beatrix and her father, emphasizing instead her repressive childhood (which has been proven, in recent years, more myth than reality). There is scant mention of some of the artist's commercial ventures or her refusal to alter the size of her books. Despite handsome pencil drawings, this account is a disappointment. Ages 9-11. (Apr.)