The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse

The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse

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by Patricia MacLachlan, Hadley Hooper
     
 

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If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived in a dreary town in northern France, what would your life be like? Would it be full of color and art? Full of lines and dancing figures?

Find out in this beautiful, unusual picture book about one of the world's most famous and influential artists by acclaimed author and Newbery Medal-winning Patricia MacLachlan and

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Overview

If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived in a dreary town in northern France, what would your life be like? Would it be full of color and art? Full of lines and dancing figures?

Find out in this beautiful, unusual picture book about one of the world's most famous and influential artists by acclaimed author and Newbery Medal-winning Patricia MacLachlan and innovative illustrator Hadley Hooper.

A Neal Porter Book

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Maria Russo
Hooper's illustrations wonderfully evoke Matisse's palette and style with a dappled beauty all their own.
Publishers Weekly
★ 08/18/2014
In one long, singing sentence (and a briefer second one that’s no less lyrical), MacLachlan (Snowflakes Fall) takes what’s known of Matisse’s upbringing and shows how naturally it leads into a life as an artist. “If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived/ in a dreary town in Northern France where the skies were gray,” she starts, as Hooper (Here Come the Girl Scouts!) draws a bundled-up boy crossing a village square in the wintry dusk. As MacLachlan shows how Matisse’s mother brought color into her son’s life, Hooper’s woodcutlike images recall Matisse’s organic forms and brilliant hues while preserving her own style. Small Henri feeds pigeons, “Watching... their colors that changed with the light... That your mother called iridescence.” On the next page, the boy stands opposite the man Matisse, who holds a palette. “Would it be a surprise that you became/ A fine painter who painted/ Light/ and Movement/ And the iridescence of birds?” It’s a sumptuous meditation on the way artists see and feel, one that possesses an iridescence of its own. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content LLC. Illustrator’s agent: Marlena Agency. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

“A spacious and beautiful book, as much a lesson for adults on visual enrichment and nurturing a creative spirit as an introductory biography for children.” —The Horn Book

“*Glorious . . . Effective page turns and the accretion of detail in both text and illustration take readers on a journey.” —Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“*The book gives off a creative energy that readers of all ages will find fulfilling . . . A poetic look at creativity, both natural and nurtured.” —School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“*In two long, lyrical sentences, Patricia MacLachlan wonders about the early years of Henri Matisse . . . an essential, spirited picture book.” —Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“*It's a sumptuous meditation on the way artists see and feel, one that possesses an iridescence of its own.” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
Matisse grew up in a gray and dreary industrial town in northern France. His mother used her artistic talents to brighten their home, and she encouraged Henri to develop his own. Through MacLachlan’s text, the reader learns of Matisse’s childhood, and how color and shape influenced his work. MacLachlan’s carefully honed text has no extraneous words and in this way is a shining example of picture book text. Meanwhile, Hooper captures a sense of the artist, the town and its textile mill, and the pigeons in the mixed-media illustrations with his use of line and color. Showing the passage of time is always difficult, but Hooper has found a brilliant way to do so. As the text bridges from Matisse’s childhood to adulthood, Hooper places a ladder in the center of a double-page spread with the child Matisse on one side and the adult Matisse on the other. The story and illustrations together pop off the pages. Matisse’s works are referenced in both. Art teachers, parents, and any adults working with children will want to show Matisse’s work while reading this book. With the notes in the back from the author and illustrator, this could also be used in middle school and high school art classes as an introduction to Matisse. There is also a brief bibliography for further reading. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo; Ages 4 to 9.
School Library Journal
★ 08/01/2014
Gr 1–4—This richly textured picture book looks at Henri Matisse's inspiration as a young boy, beginning with a spread depicting the gray, clammy French village in which he grew up. But while it is cold and damp outside, Matisse's mother fills the interior of their home with light through pattern and color. She paints natural scenes on plates, allows her son to mix and experiment with paint, and covers every possible surface with color. They are surrounded by their art. This look at Matisse's creativity and artistic process is strong and unusual for several reasons. Maclachlan concentrates on Matisse's mother and her influence on his eventual career. Her poetic text doesn't give the specific details of the man's life, but readers come away with a real sense of his art. Hooper's art, a combination of relief printmaking and digital techniques, expands readers' understanding of the text. They have strong solid lines, contrasting with the wide range of pastel colors. Hooper isn't derivative of Matisse's style but rather takes his tools and creates something new. On one spread, the background features a piece of Matisse's art; careful viewers will notice the artist in the foreground, growing from a boy into a man. The book gives off a creative energy that readers of all ages will find fulfilling. The simplicity of the text makes this book appropriate to use as a springboard to Matisse's work for even the very young. A poetic look at creativity, both natural and nurtured.—Susan E. Murray, formerly at Glendale Public Library, AZ
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-08-12
If indeed the "child is father to the man," Newbery medalist MacLachlan's poetic, careful and concentrated text captures the essence of Matisse's childhood experiences and draws powerful parallels with his later life and work. In her second picture book, Hooper (Here Come the Girl Scouts, by Shana Corey, 2012) employs a relief-print process with digital enhancement, art that is a perfect match for the simple story's vivid imagery. Effective page turns and the accretion of detail in both text and illustration take readers on a journey from perennially overcast northern France to the patterned interiors and lush exoticism of Matisse's Provence while demonstrating the artistic beginnings of his fauvist palette. It modulates from spread to spread, from the "dreary town in northern France" where the skies and streets are gray, through the exciting, paint-filled pots of color in Matisse's mother's china-painting studio and the oranges and golds of fruit and flowers from the markets to the many shades of reds in the rugs his mother put on the walls and floors of their house. The title springs from Matisse's love of pigeons. He was fascinated by their "sharp eyes" and "red feet." And he particularly loved watching their colors change as they moved—the titular "iridescence." Raising pigeons, it seems, was the perfect pastime for this quiet, color-loving boy who would become a brilliant painter. Glorious. (biographical note, artist's note, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781596439481
Publisher:
Roaring Brook Press
Publication date:
10/14/2014
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
276,517
Product dimensions:
9.40(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
AD240L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Patricia MacLachlan is the author of many novels for children, including the Newbery Medal-winning Sarah, Plain and Tall; Baby; Waiting for the Magic; and The Truth of Me. Among her picture books are What You Know First and Lala Salama. She lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and her old dog, Emmet.
Hadley Hooper works as an editorial illustrator for numerous magazines and newspapers. In 2011 she illustrated Here Come the Girl Scouts! by Shana Corey. The Iridescence of Birds is her second picture book and first for Roaring Brook Press. She lives in Denver, Colorado.

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