Title: Elisabeth and the Box of Colours
Author: Katherine Woodfine
Illustrator: Rebecca Cobb
Publisher: Barrington Stoke (Little Gems)
Genre: Younger children’s fiction
Book format: Paperback
Sweet Strawberries: Sweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet Strawberry

Description:  Elisabeth loves to DRAW and PAINT beautiful BRIGHT pictures, just like her papa.  But wen sadness turns her world GREY, can Elisabeth find comfort in her colourful CRAYONS and rediscover joy through her ART?
A beautifullly touching tale about friendship, family and finding JOY in the darkes of times.
Inspired by the childhood of French portrait artist Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun.

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  This is such a beautiful story.  Elisabeth lives in Paris with her father, mother and brother Etienne.  Elisabeth loves watching her father paint in his messy studio.  She loves all the colours that she sees and when her father encourages her to draw and paint she does, painting the colourful view outside, things in their house, etc.  But one day Elisabeth has to go to school where everything is grey.  The walls are grey, the uniforms are grey, and she isn’t allowed to draw colourful pictures anymore.  Elisabeth tries to get find colour in the grey, but when something terrible happens, Elisabeth struggles to see anything colourful ever again.

Elisabeth and the Box of Colours book page image one
©The Strawberry Post

This is a really lovely book which is based on the real life story of Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun.  The book is a pocket size, smaller than a regular reading book and is filled with thick pages of some really beautiful illustrations and text.  The story is an emotional one with Elisabeth finding it hard to smile with all the grey in her life at school.  But being creative helps Elisabeth to get through the grey, even when something bad happens in her life.  I like how this story is based around the life of the real portrait artist Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun but has been changed a bit.  I never knew anything about the real artist and it’s amazing what happens to her and how something very sad happens and how she gets through it.

I don’t want to give away what happens but I like how the school girls around Elisabeth are good and supportive to her.  I also enjoyed the ending which was good, especially the extra chapter about the real artist and who she really painted.  Mentioning the bad thing that happens in the story will give away a big part of the book but I do feel it’s important to mention it as it’s an important subject covered in the book (so a spoiler is ahead for the rest of this paragraph) and that is the death of loved one.  The story covers bereavement well and I like how this difficult topic has been covered, showing the darkness around Elisabeth, and also the power of creativity in helping someone through a difficult time.

The illustrations are lovely.   They remind me of a child’s drawing but they look so lovely with the bright, vivid and colourful images being a great contrast to the grey, dark and sad colourless world Elisabeth finds herself in.  I love how everyone looks too, their expressions, especially Elisabeth’s happiness and sadness being easy to see on her face.  The illustrations appear throughout the book and there is also a spot the difference puzzle on the inside of the front cover.  The book is especially made to be dyslexia friendly with a special font used and also paragraphs spaced out and thick pages that make it easier to read.  The book is also short and perfect for young children to look at and enjoy, while learning more about the real life artist.

Elisabeth and the Box of Colours book page image two
©The Strawberry Post

Overall I have to say that this really is a lovely book and one I know I would have enjoyed as a child.  The story tackles a difficult subject while also showing the power of creativity and how Elisabeth uses colours to help her overcome her sadness.  I love how this can encourage children to do some art themselves, and I’m sure many will enjoy reading Elisabeth’s tale.

What do you think of this book?  Have you every heard of the painter who inspired the story?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂