Anna and Johanna

illus. by Florence Koenig. 32p. Prestel. May 2018. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9783791373454.
PreS-Gr 3—In a story inspired by two of Jan Vermeer's most famous paintings, two young girls discover a new dimension to their friendship. Anna and Johanna were born on the same day and have always had a special bond, although they lead different lives. Anna is the daughter of the master of the house, while Johanna is the daughter of the housemaid. As their birthday approaches, they create handmade gifts for one another. Anna is spinning a lace collar for Johanna to match her own and Johanna is making chocolates for Anna. Little do they realize this will be a birthday like no other—they are about to discover a secret regarding their origins. Some Dutch phrases are mixed with the English, adding to the sense of place and culture. Lushly layered acrylic paintings in hues of ultramarine, yellow, and gray honor Vermeer's palette while depicting indoor and outdoor scenes of 1666 Delft within which the girls work and play. Full-page reproductions of Vermeer's 17th-century paintings The Milkmaid and The Lacemaker give readers a glimpse into the contemplative scenes of young women at work that inspired the story. Back materials include a biographical sketch of Vermeer and more information on his paintings. Children will relate to the story of first friendship as they discover the work of a Dutch master.
VERDICT This child-friendly introduction to the art of Vermeer will make an attractive addition to library art collections.

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