Thursday, March 17, 2016

Picture Book Review: Therese Makes a Tapestry by Alexandra S.D. Hinrichs

Title: Therese Makes a Tapestry
Author: Alexandra S.D. Hinrichs
Illustrator: Renee Graef

Step back in time to seventeenth-century Paris with Thérèse, a talented young girl who lives and works at the Gobelins Manufactory, where Europe’s greatest artisans make tapestries and luxury objects for King Louis XIV. Even though girls are not trained on the great looms there, Thérèse practices on a small one at home and dreams of becoming a royal weaver someday.

This charming story follows Thérèse as she carries out an ambitious plan with the help of family, friends, and the artisans of the Gobelins. The intricate craft of tapestry weaving is illuminated, and surprises await Thérèse, her parents and brothers, and even the king himself. 

This is a beautifully illustrated book! The colors are perfect, and the details on each page are amazing.  This is a book that I (or any child) could explore over and over.  I just loved the visual aspect of the book.

Of course it's more than that.  The story is just as interesting.  I loved the story of Therese wanting to give something has a gift, and creating this wonderful piece of art that gets the recognition it deserved.  I found myself cheering for her.  I also was intrigued just by the time period and place of the story.  I wanted to know more about it.  What her story real?  Did any woman create during this time. What real examples of what she created are around that I could see? I was excited to learn that, even though fiction, it was based on a real-life people, places and tapestries.  The tapestry Therese creates is based on a real tapestry!   I could see using this in the classroom and those same questions coming forward.  

In the end the story is wonderful both visually and thoughtfully.  

Praise for the book:

“This charming narrative of a determined girl’s artistic talent and will to succeed in the family
business makes a compelling story on an unusual topic.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Through an engaging picture story, we learn about the process that was used to make intricate tapestries at the Gobelins Manufactory in 17th century France. Thérèse is a fictional character but she comes to life in Renée Graef’s detailed and meticulously researched illustrations that give us a sense of what it was like for a child growing up in a family of artisans. This is an elegant volume that will be a pleasure for families to read together.” —Kathleen T. Horning,

About the Author
Alexandra S. D. Hinrichs loves reading, writing, baking, playing outside, and exploring everything from history to new cities. She holds masters degrees in History (History of Childhood) and Library & Information Studies (Youth Services) from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her previous experience includes working as a historical researcher at American Girl, as a substitute youth services librarian, and as a children’s bookseller. She spent a delightful year teaching kindergarten at a private Thai School in Bangkok, Thailand.

Originally from a small town in central Massachusetts, Hinrichs also has lived and studied in New York, France, and Wisconsin. She now makes her home with her spouse and two small sons in Bangor, Maine.

Twitter: @puddlereader

About the Illustrator
Renée Graef is an award-winning illustrator who graduated from the University of
Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in art. She has illustrated over 80 books for children, including the Kirsten series in the American Girl collection and many of the My First Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Renée worked as an art director for the Little House program at Harper Collins for five years and enjoyed traveling to all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites. Renée has also illustrated classics such as The Nutcracker and My Favorite Things, as well as books on American icons Mount Rushmore and Paul Bunyan. She has recently illustrated two books for Lidia Bastianich (of PBS’s Lidia’s Italy) and an alphabet book on timekeeping. Her accomplishments have been honored by the State of Wisconsin’s House of Representatives and the Society of Illustrators/LA, among other groups, and her work has been exhibited in numerous one-man shows.

Renee divides her time between Los Angeles and her home state of Wisconsin.

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