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***Fancy That

written by Esther Hershenhorn

illustrated by Megan Lloyd

Reviewed September 13, 2005.
Holiday House, New York, 2003.  32 pages.
Available at Vogelweh Library (E HER).

Esther Hershenhorn is speaking at a Writers’ Conference I’m planning to attend in Paris in November, so I wanted to read her work.

When their father dies, Pippin Biddle wants to support his three sisters and get them a place to live.  He decides to take on his father’s work as a traveling portrait painter, a limner.

First he tries painting faces, both human and animal.  However, he paints them too true to life, and the subjects aren’t happy with the results.  Still, he sends his sister a message that they’ll be in their own home by Christmas.

Next, he tries painting full body portraits.  Once again, people aren’t happy with the results.  Pip still tells his sisters they will have their own home by Christmas.

Pip decides to try painting portraits of entire families.  Surely that will bring in enough money.  However, when he paints squabbling children and frowning parents, no one wants to buy the painting.  He goes back to his sisters, discouraged and sad, for it is almost Christmas.

He is awaited by a surprise.  His sisters, encouraged by his messages, have found a way to earn money themselves.

This story about ingenuity and perseverance is based on the historical profession of limners, who worked before the invention of photography and traveled around, painting people’s likenesses.

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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