What Isabella wanted Isabella Stewart Gardner builds a museum

Candace Fleming

Book - 2021

"The true story of Isabella Stewart Gardner's mission to turn her home into a unique art museum"--

Saved in:

Children's Room Show me where

0 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room j708.009/Fleming Due Aug 15, 2022
Picture books
New York : Holiday House [2021]
First edition
Item Description
"Neal Porter Books."
Physical Description
40 pages : color illustrations, color map ; 29 cm
Ages 4 to 8
Grades K-1
Includes bibliographical references (page 40).
Main Author
Candace Fleming (author)
Other Authors
Matthew Cordell, 1975- (illustrator)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Brash, extravagant, and very much in possession of her own mind, Isabella Stewart Gardner was a woman who lived life her own way at a time (1840–1924) when women were not encouraged to do so. Fleming and Cordell keep her independent spirit front and center as they proceed to describe her passion for collecting art, arranging it just so in her Boston mansion, and opening the doors of her home turned museum to the public. In busily lined, candy-colored illustrations, Cordell recreates the gallery-like rooms of Gardner's house with Vermeer's The Concert and Rembrandt's The Storm recognizably on its most famous wall; but there are also scenes of her travels and spot art showing a great variety of pieces being added to her collection. Then, a blue tone covers the pages as the infamous and still-unsolved art theft occurs decades later, explaining the empty frames that hang in the museum today. Informative back matter provides additional details on Gardner's life, unethical collecting practices of the time, and photos of the stolen Vermeer and Rembrandt. Grades 1-4. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840–1924) assembled an idiosyncratic collection of artworks over her lifetime. In the palazzo she built to house it, priceless treasures still hang next to souvenirs and personal mementoes—in this picture book biography's refrain, "exactly as Isabella wanted." The story begins with a trip abroad, where an adult Gardner determined to possess the works she loved, to her building of the Boston "museum home," and to the 1990 theft, well after her death, of 13 important works—a crime that remains a mystery today. Cordell's loose, humorous line gives Gardner a flamboyant feel, while images of her home reflect what back matter calls its "glorious jumble." Fleming is candid about Gardner's faults: smuggling art out of its country of origin ("cultural raiding," the afterword notes) and following around visitors to her home saying, "Don't touch!" In a picture book that's as much about a place as a figure, this story of treasure gained and lost offers a fascinating look at one person's whims made reality. Ages 4–8. (Sept.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 3–6—Isabella Stewart Gardner, who lived in Boston in the late 1800s, collected art and objects—lots and lots of art and objects. She was very spirited, loved adventure, and liked to stir things up a bit. On a trip to Europe in 1867, she was captivated by the art she saw and set about acquiring as much as she could, employing agents around the globe to procure the treasures she sought, often using devious or downright dishonest methods for obtaining them. It soon became clear she needed a much larger place to display everything, so she set about designing a four-story palazzo, devoting the first three floors to eclectic displays of art, objects, and everyday items that appealed to her, all of which she personally arranged, then shared with the public 20 days a year for $1 per person. Upon her death, she bequeathed her museum to the people of Boston on the condition that nothing be touched or rearranged. That held true until 1990, when thieves made off with over $500 million in art, none of which has ever been recovered. The text is written in free verse and gives a brief overview of Isabella's life and escapades. While the story itself does not call into question the ethics of her schemes for acquiring art, the more extensive back matter delves into it a bit while also filling in additional details about the palazzo and Isabella. Cordell's characteristic sketch lines, filled with mostly subdued colors, work to bring a historic feel to the story. Source notes, a bibliography, and the web address for the museum are provided. VERDICT This may have limited appeal outside the northeast, specifically the Boston area. It will no doubt be a fitting addition to the museum's gift shop.—Maggie Chase, Boise State Univ., ID Copyright 2021 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Details the extraordinary life of the indomitable founder of her own museum in 1903, which has delighted generations of Bostonians for decades, and how thieves stole 13 paintings from the museum in 1990 that have yet to be recovered. Simultaneous eBook. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

From multiple award-winning author Candace Fleming and Caldecott Medalist Matthew Cordell comes the true story of a woman who always got what she wanted: Isabella Stewart Gardner.A New England Book Award FinalistFor years, the indomitable Isabella Stewart Gardner searched the world for magnificent artwork and filled her home with a truly unique collection, with the aim of turning it into a museum, which she established in 1903.Isabella always did things her own way. One day she'd wear baseball gear to the symphony, the next, she'd be seen strolling down the street with zoo lions. It was no surprised that she was very particular about how she arranged her exhibits. They were not organized historically, stylistically, or by artist. Instead, they were arranged based on the connections Isabella felt toward the art, a connection she hoped to encourage in her visitors.For years, her museum delighted generations of Bostonians and visitors with the collections arranged exactly as she wanted. But in 1990, a spectacular burglary occurred when two thieves disguised as police officers stole thirteen paintings, valued at $500 million, including a Rembrandt and a Vermeer. They have yet to be recovered, though a $10 million reward is still being offered for their safe return.Author Candace Fleming perfectly captures Isabella's inimitable personality and drive, accompanied by exuberant illustrations by Matthew Cordell.A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard SelectionA CCBC Choice