A Tulip in Winter: A Story About Folk Artist Maud Lewis

Greystone. Mar. 2023. 44p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781771649513.
PreS-Gr 3–Although not a well-recognized name in the art world, Maud Lewis, a white Canadian folk artist known for her cheerful paintings of flowers, animals, and landscapes, is celebrated in this picture book. As a child, Lewis was teased and ostracized for an increasingly debilitating illness (noted in the back matter as rheumatoid arthritis). When her mother handed her a paintbrush Lewis began to notice all of the beauty that surrounds her: “Shape. Lines. Colours. Everywhere!” As she grew up, she continued to face hardships and found an unlikely home with the local fish peddler who allowed her to be her true creative self. The narrative is filled with imagery and read-aloud potential (“his house as dreary as a dishpan of dirty water”) that is fully complemented by the digitally rendered illustrations. The palette of cream, green, gold, and gray is directly connected to the real work of Lewis and the flattened, one-dimensional style and jagged linework is true to her own painting method. Cream-colored drawings added to the scenes represent the optimistic way in which the artist viewed the world. Back matter includes information about Lewis and notes from author and illustrator.
VERDICT A strong addition to biography or art shelves or to collections seeking representation of life in early 20th-century Nova Scotia.

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