Candace Fleming
Historical Picture Books
The Curse of the Mummy
Neal Porter Books,
Holiday House,
September 2021
ages 4 and up
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What Isabella Wanted:
Isabella Stewart Gardner Builds a Museum

written by Candace Fleming
illustrated by Matthew Cordell

For 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.

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.

Awards and Honors

Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection

Read the Reviews

"Author and illustrator have a field day here celebrating the audacious acquisitiveness of a rich lady whose 'great art [was] displayed next to bric-a-brac with no distinction between them.' Cordell winkingly decks Isabella out in the iconic black dress captured in John Singer Sargent’s portrait." (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review)

"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." (Publishers Weekly)

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