Colorful Dreamer: The Story of Artist Henri Matisse

Marjorie Blain Parker, illus. by Holly Berry. Dial, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3758-7
For a boy whose "dreams were full of color," life in Henri Matisse's industrial village is bleak. Young Henri is a source of anxiety for his hardworking parents, who fear he will never make a living; his departure for Paris to study law comes as a relief. Berry (Woof: A Love Story) ties her mixed-media artwork to Matisse's growth and eventual embrace of art. Scenes of Matisse's upbringing and dreary work as a law clerk are drawn in pencil, but when he begins painting, his life transforms. "The moment Henri opened that box, he knew. The colors! This was what he had been dreaming of," writes Parker (When Dads Don't Grow Up). Berry then fills her spreads with vibrant acrylic paintings and collage artwork, integrating flamboyant patterns and tropical motifs that echo the work that Matisse tirelessly creates ("He worked as hard as any artist ever had. He worked until the very day he died"). Readers whose talents stray from the conventional should welcome this joyful affirmation of creative expression. Ages 3–up. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 12/24/2012
Release date: 11/01/2012
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