Destination: Giverny, France
Book: Linnea Visits Monet’s Garden by Christina Björk and Lena Anderson
A Visit to Claude Monet’s Garden
A Guest Post by Mara Gorman
When I was planning our family’s trip to Paris last summer, I knew that we would make a day trip to see the painter Claude Monet’s house and garden, which are located in Giverny, right next to the village of Vernon, about an hour outside the city. I had last visited myself nearly twenty years before when I was in college, and had done so because of a book given to me by my mother,[amazonify]9129583144::text:::: Linnea in Monet’s Garden [/amazonify] by Christina Björk and Lena Anderson.
The story in this book is a very simple travel narrative. Linnea, a little Swedish girl, and her friend Mr. Bloom read books about Claude Monet and then decide that they want to visit his home in Giverny (which when the book was first publish 25 years ago had just been restored). They stay in Paris, in a hotel right near Notre Dame, and go to see Monet’s paintings at the Musée Marmottan and also in the Musée de l’Orangerie, which is where his large water lily canvases are hung. They also visit Monet’s house and garden at Giverny.
There is so much to love about this book. The illustrations of Linnea and Mr. Bloom are completely charming, and they are interspersed with photographs of flower and leaves, of the Monet family and of the inside of the home. It is meant to look like a scrapbook, with Linnea telling the story and although it is full of information and details about art, history, and French culture, it is also childlike and has a real sense of wonder and joy.
Monet’s paintings also play a central role, and the book does a great job of talking about what Impressionistic art is and how Monet painted. It discusses the fact that he worked outdoors and that he often painted the same landscapes at different times of the day and at different times of the year to show the effect of changing light and seasons. Included also is a brief biography of Monet, told from the point of view of his great grandson Jean-Marie Tougouat, who is also a character in the book.
The book was a favorite in our house even before we knew we were going to France, and it came with us on our trip. In fact, we brought it on the train to Vernon and when we arrived at the house and garden, we were all enchanted to see that it still looks exactly like we had expected.
The book served as an inspiration to Tommy, who had brought along his colored pencils and art book and despite the crowds on the path, decided to sit down and draw a picture of the famous Japanese bridge that Linnea was so excited herself to see.
In fact, the lovely thing about this book is that despite the fact that it was published a while ago, it is still possible to completely replicate the story with your children. We had a busy time in Paris and didn’t make it to see the famous water lily paintings or the Musée Marmottan. But we did stroll by the Hotel Esmerelda where Linnea and Mr. Bloom stayed and poke our heads in the lobby. And the experience of the train ride and of Giverny are still very much the same as when Linnea and Mr. Bloom visited.
If you aren’t going to make it to Giverny any time soon, this book is really the next best thing. It also makes a great kid-friend introduction to the Impressionists.
Photographs by Mara Gorman, all rights reserved.
Mara Gorman’s blog The Mother of All Trips offers stories, tips, and inspiration for traveling parents. When she’s not on the road with Tommy (7) and Teddy (4), she can be found at home in Delaware.