The Smart About Art series continues with Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors by Jane O'Connor, illus. by Jessie Hartland. Presented and organized in the style of a grade-school report (and written from the perspective of the fictitious "Keesie Johnson"), the latest installment covers the Fauve movement and Matisse's shift from painting to cut-paper collage. (Mar.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Jane O'Connor takes a unique approach to a biography in this latest addition to the "Smart About Art" series. She includes the usual information about the artist's life and work, but she presents it in an unusual way. The elements of this book combine to suggest that it is, in fact, a school report about Henri Matisse written by elementary school student Keesia Johnson. The first page is a memo supposedly written by Keesia's teacher, Ms. Brandt, and the final page includes the teacher's evaluative comments. The rest of the book includes information about Matisse, supplemented by pictures of the author's work and Keesia's own cartoon-like illustrations. Teachers will find this book especially useful for its duality as both an art information book and a model of a school report. However, the informal nature of the report limits its usefulness to the elementary grades. This book might benefit from a supplemental list of age-appropriate resources about Matisse. 2002, Grosset & Dunlap,
— Heidi Hauser Green
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-A creative way to instill an appreciation of art in children. The text begins with a "hand-printed" letter on lined paper from the teacher, Ms. Brandt, posing three questions to her students for their reports about a famous artist. The rest of the book is related as Keesia Johnson's report. Hartland's color illustrations are captioned with dialogue or other text; examples of Matisse's art are dispersed throughout; and there are photos of the artist and his mother; of the child who "wrote" the report and her sister; of Matisse in his 70s, making paper cutouts; and of stained-glass windows in a church that he designed. A brief biographical sketch is included, and children are also told about Matisse's changes in style, use of bright colors, and skill in various mediums. The last page contains the teacher's "hand-printed" note to Keesia after reading her work. This book could be used in conjunction with Mike Venezia's Henri Matisse (Children's, 1997), Nelly Munthe's Meet Matisse (Little, Brown, 1983; o.p.), and Ernest Lloyd Raboff's Henri Matisse (Lippincott, 1988; o.p.) to introduce the life and works of this renowned French artist.-Augusta R. Malvagno, Queens Borough Public Library, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Jane O'Connor is the author of more than thirty books for children, including the Nina, Nina Ballerina stories, illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo, and the Fancy Nancy picture book series. Ms. O'Connor lives with her family in ever-posh New York City.