Meeting Cezanne

Written by Michael Morpurgo
Review by Ann Pedtke

In this charming little book, British Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo tells the story of Yannick, a young Parisian boy who is sent away to live with his aunt and uncle in Provence when his mother falls ill. Provence is the country of Cezanne – whom Yannick believes is the “greatest painter in the world.” When a mysterious artist visits his uncle’s inn, Yannick sets out to introduce himself and win a drawing from his idol.

At just 64 pages, this little volume is geared toward beginning readers, and takes no more than half an hour to flip through. However, the prose is never “dumbed down,” and the book has the flavor of a tightly-crafted short story rather than a simplified novel. The countryside of Provence is lovingly rendered, and the relationship between Yannick and his cousin Amandine is depicted as the sort of hopeless puppy love that can nurture rather than disappoint. Tender, lyrical, and supplemented with beautiful illustrations, Meeting Cezanne is a book that offers early readers ages 6-10 an accessible introduction to what good literature can be.