ANNA AND JOHANNA
A Children’s Book Inspired by Jan Vermeer
By: Geraldine Elschner
Illustrated by: Florence Koenig
Published: April 10, 2018
Publisher: Prestel Junior
Jan Vermeer was a 17th Century painter from The Netherlands. He married, had at least ten children, and died at the young age of 43, leaving his family in debt, but also leaving his paintings. His paintings represent the day-to-day life of the Dutch. Elschner takes two of his famous paintings, “The Milkmaid” and “The Lacemaker” and creates a tale that could be told for centuries.
Anna, the daughter of the master of the house, and Johanna, the daughter of the housemaid were born on the very same day. These girls have become friends and are secretly making a birthday gift for each other. Anna’s father, however, has a secret to reveal to the girls on their birthday. This story within a story is one to tell for years to come.
The book is a bit large for a picture book, but the pages are so gorgeous, you won’t mind the size. The paper quality is top-notch, very thick and glossy that gives this book a classic, precious gift quality. Koenig’s painted images on the pages are in perfect compliment to Vermeer’s painting style. The blues and greens used on the pages are calming and her character portraits tell the story so beautifully.
The end of the book features Vermeer’s two paintings and a brief history of him. The author also gives a bit of her history and interest in writing this children’s book.
History and art come together in a beautiful story of friendship, chance, and family. This gorgeous book is perfect for gift-giving and one that could be passed down for generations.
Geraldine Elschner is the author of numerous books, including THE CAT AND THE BIRD and WHERE IS THE FROG?. She lives in Heidelberg, Germany.
Florence Koenig is an illustrator and art teacher living in Paris.
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