How Dreadful! by Claire Lebourg

I always say that Creatives are extremely brave. To share one’s work is such a vulnerable thing to do and I am proud of and applaud every single one of us for doing it. That might be why I adored this book so much. How Dreadful!, by Claire Lebourg and translated from the French by Sophie Lewis is a celebration of artists and offers encouragement for all of us who ever experience self doubt.

Paty has her big gallery opening show coming up so she asks her friends to pose for her paintings. One by one a hilarious cast of characters models for Paty to paint. And each one is horrified and disappointed in the way Paty has portrayed them. Poor Paty is devastated and overcome with insecurity. She wants to cancel her show, but the owner says no, no, no.

And when her big opening night rolls around, Paty is shocked and surprised to hear the viewers’ positive responses. Thus validating how Paty chose to portray each character and pointing out that art is subjective. This big gallery opening night reveal is done with a very clever two page fold out spread. Claire Lebourg’s whimsically fluid watercolors are hilarious. She does a brilliant job of capturing so much emotion and detail in each critter.

This one is staying in my library because of how wonderful, how fantastic, how darlingly adorable, and how fabulous, How Dreadful is!

Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Jennifer is the illustrator and author of several acclaimed picture books. Most recently is Always by My Side, 'A Stuffie Story', which she wrote and illustrated. She also is both the author and illustrator of Playing Possum, and Blue Ethel. Jennifer illustrated Gondra’s Treasure, written by Newbery award winner Linda Sue Park. As well as, Sometimes You Fly, by Newbery medalist, Katherine Applegate. She illustrated Yaks Yak, Animal Word Pairs by Linda Sue Park, The Inventor's Secret, What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford, by Suzanne Slade, Rabbi Benjamin's Buttons, by Alice B. McGinty, and The Adventures of a South Pole Pig, by Chris Kurtz.


  1. Oh boy, sharing our work with others can sometimes be such a scary thing… It reminded me about a story of St. Teresa de Avila when her portrait was painted. She said something to the effect of: brother you must not like me very much to make me so ugly. She had a great sense of humor. I love watercolors for their softness, the ‘bleed’, and the happy accidents. Thank you so much for sharing How Dreadful!

  2. Becky Adamski Krische

    I think we have all been in Paty’s shoes. I adore how this book is seeking to reexamine how everyone has and deals with personal insecurities. I look forward to sharing this one with my family! Thank you for the recommendation.

  3. I wanted to see more images! Guess I’ll have to find the book. This is so relatable!

    • Hi Quinette, I usually would have sought out more, or taken them myself. A bit rushed to head out on a trip and just didn’t have time. I PROMISE, the illustrations are all fabulous and the pull out spread is wonderful. Thanks!

  4. I think I need this one!!

  5. You are so right about vulnerability! But we DO it because we can’t NOT do it! Love this book!

  6. Not only do I want to read this and see the illustrations, I want to share it with the group I do a yearly art challenge with. We have all ages. One year we ranged from age 9 to 94. The goal is to have fun and share our work with each other. Interesting that even adults will benefit from this story.

  7. This sounds adorable and, as you say, so apropos to the creative life. I’m looking for it right away! Thanks for the great post.

  8. I’m adding this one to my list! Such a good reminder that art is subjective. We have to be brave and put our work out there!

  9. Mercy! This is ADORABLE! It’s on my radar.

  10. Thank you for sharing this Jennifer. It is so hard to put ourselves out there and then sometimes find out that our work is not seen in the way we wanted it to be seen. I am putting this in my library too!

  11. Oh my goodness! As an art teacher, I love the concept of this book. Thank you for putting this book on my radar. 🙂

  12. Oh, this looks delightful! And the message!!! Thanks for sharing this one!

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