Little Sap and Monsieur Rodin

Little Sap and Monsieur Rodin

Although she is a poor country girl and the daughter of a rice farmer, Little Sap is chosen to be trained as a dancer in the Royal Palace of Cambodia in the early 1900's. Though she often feels unsure of herself, and the training is hard, Little Sap strives to succeed, knowing that her membership in the royal dance troupe will give her family status. The book describes her early training, and explains some of the movements and purposes of Cambodian dance. Then comes the exciting news that the dancers will be traveling with the king to Paris, and dancing there for the Colonial Exhibition. One of the performances is attended by Auguste Rodin, who is so taken with the dancers that he arranges to sketch them. Little Sap is one of those chosen to serve as model to the great artist, and spends two days dancing and posing while Rodin works. At the end of that time, she is given some thoughtful gifts, and comes to realize that she has grown into a graceful dancer and a worthy representative of her people. The mixed-media illustrations feature glowing colors in aquamarine and red tones, and unusual perspectives emphasize the exotic feel of the Cambodian culture. Although a fictionalized account, the main events of the story and the main characters are historical. An appendix to the book includes a bibliography of additional resources that will assist readers who wish to further explore the historical event, and explains that the artworks Rodin produced were exhibited to great acclaim in 1907 as the “Danseuse Cambodgienne” sketches. An interesting exploration of a little known event in art history. 32 pages

Recommended by Linda Lucke, Librarian

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