on December 15, 2003
This book serves more than one purpose. It is a short, but entertaining read for a child or for a parent to read to their children. The story is about Marie, a young girl in France who is loved by her poor, but hard-working parents. They work long hours to save money to send her to ballet school - as it is her dream to become the world's most famous ballerina.
When her father becomes ill and can no longer afford to pay for her classes, the famous artist Edgar Degas offers to pay her for modeling for him. He is mean, short-tempered and impatient with Marie, making her hold poses for hours until her neck aches.
One night, however, she finds out just a little of what is under the surface of Degas' rough exterior and feels sorry for him, giving him her long hair ribbon.
Even her modeling pay cannot sustain the cost of her classes, so she must give up her dream. Later, she and her parents receive an invitation to a gallery showing of Degas' work - the center piece is the only sculpture of his ever displayed during his lifetime - it is of Marie - and unlike other statues, hers is wearing a tutu and the beautiful hair ribbon she gave him.
The story is not only entertaining, but it tells children that while some people may act mean or rude, it may be because they are hurting on the inside - and extending friendship to someone who behaves in such a manner can truly make a difference in their life and in yours.
The story is peppered with illustrations of Marie and her family, as well as photos of Degas' paintings and of course, his famous sculpture. Information about the names of the paintings and the museums where they are displayed is also cited at the end of the book.
This doesn't have to be just a book for girls - even young boys will see a universal truth - we can always have dreams and even though they may not come true the way we envisioned them, we never know what wonderful surprises are around the corner.
on November 21, 2003
This is the story of Marie van Goethen, a young dancer at the Paris Opera Ballet School who posed for Edgar Degas (1824-1917). He created the sculpture, "The Little Dancer" based on Marie's likeness. This was the only Degas sculpture to be exhibited during his lifetime. This charming figure was wearing a tutu and a wig.
The illustrations in this children's book are beautiful and even some of Degas' own paintings are included. I wish that more of Degas' life had been included in this story. I also feel that this book would have been perfect if more of his paintings were displayed with descriptions of each work of art.
This book is a good introduction to Degas and should be targeted towards lower elementary students.