Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude

Biography for Kids :: Gertrude Stein


This Gertrude Stein biography for kids made its way into our life well before I was aware of it. Since Daphne’s birth, I’ve been reading chapter books with Maia as our special mama-daughter bonding time. We cuddle in her bed and read a chapter (or two or three) from The Boxcar Children or whatever book we’re currently reading, while Harry takes Daphne.

We still get stacks and stacks of picture books from the library, but Harry is more often the one to read them with Maia.

So when Maia started going around saying, “It can be whatever it wants to be!” and “Why of course it can!” I didn’t realize she was quoting from a book.


And a pretty amazing book at that, it turns out.

It is called Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude (written by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Calef Brown) and is such a pleasure to read and look at!

A biography for kids about writer Gertrude Stein, it makes learning about her life, and the artists who were part of her circle, effortless and fun.

Written in Gertrude’s stream-of-consciousness style, the text is catchy and whimsical, not didactic.

Oh, Gertrude writes whatever.


and pages

and pages

and pages

with words all over the pages.

My goodness, what fun.

What fun to write whatever words occur.


The viewpoint it gives of writing and creating is exactly what I want my daughter to hear.

A picture is a picture.

It can be whatever it wants to be.

It doesn’t have to make sense.

It doesn’t have to look like a waterfall,

not if it doesn’t want to.

A picture can be whatever.

Why of course it can.

Those seven lines are worth the price of the book alone!

We will soon replace our library copy with one for our own shelves.

This one is a keeper, keeper, keeper. Why of course it is.


I know I can be overly enthusiastic with all my exclamation points and the words, love, love, love. I try to tone it down sometimes, but that’s who I am, too, and I really do love this book!

How about you? Do you have any favorite biographies for kids?

Note :: This post includes affiliate links which means that if you purchase an item from one of the links in the post, I will receive a small commission for the sale at no added cost to you.

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  • Reply
    July 9, 2010 at 7:36 am

    Sounds like a great book. Thank you for the review.

  • Reply
    Barbara Zaborowski
    July 9, 2010 at 10:31 am

    I wasn’t familiar with this book; thanks so much, Jean, for bringing it to my attention. Hope my library has it.

  • Reply
    July 9, 2010 at 11:16 am

    sounds like the best book ever!!!! not sure if my son will dig, but i know i am in love! after spending my youth day dreaming about the life of gertrude stein, this book has to become part of my collection! THANKS FOR SHARING!!!

  • Reply
    July 9, 2010 at 11:25 am

    I hadn’t seen this one yet. We’ll look for it! Thanks for the info.

  • Reply
    Rachel at Stitched in Color
    July 9, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Interesting! My library has it and I just put in a request.

  • Reply
    July 9, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    I too loved those lines
    A picture is a picture.
    It can be whatever it wants to be.
    It doesn’t have to make sense.
    It doesn’t have to look like a waterfall,
    not if it doesn’t want to.
    A picture can be whatever.
    Why of course it can.
    I will scour the bookstores to see if I can find here in India…
    Thanks for sharing dear :)

  • Reply
    Queen of the Click
    July 9, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    I love this book too!!

  • Reply
    July 9, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    Here is the ISBN in case you want to order from a local bookstore:
    ISBN: 141694088X

  • Reply
    Michele de Jesus
    July 10, 2010 at 1:12 am

    Oh, I like it! Will check the library!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    well you sold me. i like your enthusiasm – don’t apologize! i love the phrases you chose from the book and have said to my son, “it can be whatever you want it to be” with regards to his art in the past. i like her way even better – that it can be whatever it wants to be… thanks for sharing this.

  • Reply
    July 13, 2010 at 1:10 am

    How else do you make special time with your eldest? I’m looking for some different ways to spend time with my eldest. I love the idea of reading chapter books.

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