Vincent van Gogh and the Colors of the Wind

Chiara Lossani, illus. by Octavia Monaco, Eerdmans, $18.99 (34p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5390-5
Even as a child, van Gogh's brazen temperament set him apart. As he grew older, he struggled to escape his discontent, and after failing as a preacher, he found absolution in art. Monaco places redheaded, lean-legged van Gogh inside stylized mixed-media landscapes that mimic the brighter-than-life colors and skewed perspectives of his paintings, which appear throughout. Written in present tense, Lossani's substantial narrative offers immediacy and candor, as van Gogh alienates himself from his brother, Theo, and others ("perhaps the alcohol he has started drinking doesn't help?"), and moves to Provence, where the mistral wind and night sky unleash his most fervent creative instincts. But his mental health deteriorates, leading to his ear mutilation and suicide. The aggressive imagery in this beautifully crafted yet unhappy story may trouble sensitive readers. Ages 7–up. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/20/2010
Release date: 01/01/2011
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