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Gertrude Is Gertrude Is Gertrude Is Gertrude

Jonah Winter, Author, Calef Brown, Illustrator
Jonah Winter, Author, Calef Brown, Illustrator , illus. by Calef Brown. S&S/Atheneum $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4169-4088-3
Reviewed on: 12/15/2008
Release date: 02/01/2009
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Taking his title from Gertrude Stein's famous saying about a rose, Winter (Frida ) crafts a Steinesque “word portrait” of the modernist author. Stein wears a serene smile in Brown's (Soup for Breakfast ) patchy acrylic images, and by her side is an enigmatic Alice B. Toklas: “And Gertrude and Alice are Gertrude and Alice . Well it's like this. You walk up the stairs, and there they are.” Readers reassured by closure will not find it here. Winter's nonlinear prose echoes The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas , and his fugues suit a poet fond of repetition (and babble). Brown's idiosyncratic visuals and complementary palette—likewise not customary biographical fare—befit this impresario of experimental artists and writers on the Rive Gauche. At Stein and Toklas's famous salons, “Everybody talks. Talk talk talk talk. Laugh laugh. More talk. Laugh. Okay. Enough.” Brown aptly pictures Stein's close friend Picasso surrounded by minotaur-themed cubism imagery, and Matisse framed by leafy shapes. Although purists can quibble that Matisse's cutouts came later and Hemingway lacked his white beard when he and Stein were rivals, this salute mimes Stein's mischievous voice and cultivates its own literary audience. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)

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