Book Review: Vincent van Gogh and the Colors of the Wind by Chiara Lossani

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Vincent van Gogh and the Colors of the Wind by Chiara Lossani, illustrated by Octavia Monaco

Based on Vincent van Gogh’s letters to his brother Theo, this book explores how Van Gogh became one of the greatest painters.  Vincent is enthusiastic and always moving as a child.  When he got older, he became a preacher like his father but was fired from that job because he preached as much about art as Jesus.  Vincent then became a full-time painter, but everyone doubted this man who dressed like a scarecrow and wandered the fields.  Vincent discovers the Impressionists and finds friends among them, but his work suffers as he spends time in Paris and away from nature.  Vincent is finding his voice as an artist, creating paintings that are groundbreaking and surprising.  All with the support of Theo, his brother and best friend.

Lossani writes in prose here, but it flows like poetry.  She uses gorgeous imagery in her text, such as when she compares Gauguin and Van Gogh: “Can two volcanoes stand side by side without causing a calamity?”  Her prose has a modern feel, an artistic flow that works well with the subject matter.

Immediately upon seeing the cover of this picture book, you know it is something unique.  The illustrations have an energy to them.  Without imitating Van Gogh’s work, they somehow capture the feel, the flow, and the colors.  They are dynamic, modern and push the boundary of art being used in picture books for children.

This is a dynamic biographic picture book for children that will work well when used with elementary children in a classroom.  It is also one that would work well for families heading to an art museum.  Appropriate for ages 7-10.

Reviewed from copy received from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.

Also reviewed by Fuse #8.