cover image Henri’s Scissors

Henri’s Scissors

Jeanette Winter. S&S/Beach Lane, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4424-6484-1

After quickly tracing French painter Matisse’s journey to becoming an artist (“He was happy, and his paintings made people happy”) and explaining how illness left him unable to paint at the end of his life, Winter (Kali’s Song) describes his discovery of a medium less physically demanding than painting but just as expressive: painted paper and scissors. “Why didn’t I think of it earlier?” he asks delightedly. Simple, folk-style paintings show Matisse in a wheelchair in a studio amid his collages; in a quiet visual cue, a plant with oversize leaves suggests inspiration for their big, organic shapes. He continues to create until his death, another moment Winter handles gracefully: “The rainbow of shapes cradled the old artist and carried him into the heavens.” Old age can be fertile and useful, Winter implies; disability doesn’t mean the end of creating, and triumph is possible where only sadness could have been foreseen. All of these messages lie obliquely in the text, but even readers who don’t dig that deep will share Matisse’s joy. Ages 5–8. Agent: Susan Cohen, Writers House. (Aug.)■