This week’s book recommendation is for Charlotte in London by Joan MacPhail Knight and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. This book documents the diary of a young American girl on a trip from Giverny where her family is living to London one spring and summer in 1895.

While the book is recommended for young people aged 8 – 11, there is enough art history to interest any person with an interest in art. One can also find out about the kind of life led by the well-off Americans who came to Europe to study and learn art. While that was an exclusive life that most could only dream about, the painting and their stories are an education in nineteenth century art history. The book also translates various English words into French and so this would also be fun for someone learning French.

The main interest for me in a book like this is that I did get to learn something about art, artists and art history in a short period. There were also some interesting facts about London. For example, I learned about the history of the “bobbies” and about the sewer system of London. The author also has her main character visit various London’s sights and so anyone reading this book would find out about those as well.

A book such as this is heartening to anyone, but especially to a child. The opportunity to travel to new places and to meet special people fosters optimism. Unfortunately, not every family can manage such adventures, but every person could read this book and live the adventure.

(Note: I read the 2008 Chronicle Books edition of this book.)

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