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Children's Nonfiction Art

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose

The Story of a Painting

by (author) Hugh Brewster

illustrated by John Singer Sargent

Kids Can Press
Initial publish date
Aug 2007
Recommended Age
9 to 12
Recommended Grade
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2007
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Young Kate Millet is the model for the painting John Singer Sargent is working on in her parents' garden. Everyone says she is posing well, even though she finds it very hard to stand still. Then, one of her father's friends arrives with his two daughters. They're older, taller and have lighter hair than Kate. Sargent decides to use them as models instead. Kate is devastated. Based on numerous letters and recollections from the period, Hugh Brewster's story describes Kate's disappointment, the many difficulties experienced by the painter through the long artistic process, Kate's reconciliation with him and how she is immortalized on canvas after all. Illustrated with over 35 of Sargent's paintings and sketches, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose recreates the 1880s milieu of the famed American painter during an extended trip to England, and the thoughts and days of a girl who was there alongside him.

About the authors

HUGH BREWSTER has twenty-five years of experience creating books about the Titanic as an editor, publisher and writer. He worked with Robert D. Ballard to produce the 1987 international bestseller The Discovery of the Titanic and oversaw the creation of Titanic: An Illustrated History, a book that provided inspiration for James Cameron’s epic movie. Brewster is also the author of Inside the Titanic, 882 1/2 Amazing Answers to Your Questions about the Titanic and Deadly Voyage, and has written twelve award-winning books for young readers, including Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, a 2007 Governor General’s Award nominee. He lives in Toronto. Visit him online at or follow him on Twitter @hughbrewster.

Hugh Brewster's profile page

John Singer Sargent's profile page


  • Short-listed, Red Cedar Award
  • Winner, Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children’s Book Centre
  • Short-listed, TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, Canadian Children’s Book Centre
  • Runner-up, Information Book Award, Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada
  • Short-listed, Governor General’s Literary Award, children’s literature, Canada Council for the Arts

Editorial Reviews

This is an exquisite book ...

... a fascinating story ... Brewster makes accessible the rarefied world of art ... Sargent’s work ... offer a feast for the eyes.

This ideal gift book by an award-winning author will educate, entertain, and inform a whole new generation of readers and art lovers.

A great introduction to the world of art ...

This is an exquisite book, gently written and beautifully produced ... one of the most charming and instructive of art-making stories ... compelling, essential reading for anyone of any age who is interested in painting ...

... well-researched and engaging volume ...

Librarian Reviews

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose: The Story of a Painting

This charming, true story focuses on how Kate Millet gets over her disappointment and takes part in the creation of John Singer Sargent’s well-loved painting. Illustrated with over 35 Sargent paintings and sketches, this evocative account will captivate readers.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2008.

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