cover image Cézanne’s Parrot

Cézanne’s Parrot

Amy Guglielmo, illus. by Brett Helquist. Putnam, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-525-51508-1

Cézanne, the late 19th-century French painter, has lofty ambitions, and he wants his new parrot Bisou to acknowledge them: “Can you say, ‘Cézanne is a great painter’?” he instructs the bird. Cézanne rejects heroic subjects and traditional techniques. “While other artists painted flawless details with tiny brushes... Cézanne preferred thick paint and heavy marks.” He’s not a fast-working impressionist like his friend Monet, either. Cézanne paints agonizingly slowly, and sometimes he’s dissatisfied. At last, though, he gains recognition from the art world—and from his avian companion, too. Helquist (Guitar Genius) illustrates Cézanne’s story with boldly outlined and modeled figures in detailed period costume. His versions of Cézanne’s own paintings capture the painter’s lavish strokes and earthen tones. Spoken remarks—especially gossipy comments about Cézanne’s paintings (“Too dark!” “Too crude!”)—often appear in speech balloons. By examining the hard work and frustration that often lies behind what can look like inevitable celebrity, Guglielmo (How to Build a Hug) makes a solid case for understanding Cézanne as a painter who followed his own vision. An author’s note distinguishes between the historical record and fictional invention. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Stephen Barbara, InkWell Management. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Feb.) [/em]