The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse

Patricia MacLachlan, Author, Hadley Hooper, Illustrator
Patricia MacLachlan, illus. by Hadley Hooper. Roaring Brook/Porter, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-59643-948-1
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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.)
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