Friday, March 1, 2013
The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel – PPBF
In a short discussion about picture book biographies, a fellow participant in Julie Hedlund’s 12x challenge reminded me of this book on my shelf. While we are used to seeing picture books with child, or child-like protagonists, biographies are one area in which adults are prevalent. The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau is unusual perhaps because there isn’t a hint of Henri’s childhood. The opening takes my breath away-imagining Henri beginning his artistic journey. The illustrations are similarly inspiring, done in Rousseau’s style--lush, bold and playful.
Title: The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau
Author: Michelle Markel
Illustrator: Amanda Hall
Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2012 Audience: 3+ years of age
Themes: Art, Dignity, Persistence, Self-Belief
Opening: “Henri Rousseau wants to be an artist. Not a single person has ever told him he is talented. He’s a toll collector. He’s forty years old. But he buys some canvas, paint, and brushes, and starts painting anyway.”
Synopsis: Readers expecting quick success will be disappointed. Henri Rousseau endured years of criticism and derision from the art community in Paris. But he knew that he wanted to paint, he knew it made him feel alive, it let him visit exotic places in his mind, and so he kept painting. It wasn’t until late in his life that he enjoyed a modicum of success.
Activities/Resources:To get a taste of this book you can visit Eerdman's book trailer: Author Michelle Markal has a discussion guide for the book on her website. This book is a useful springboard for discussing why some people like certain types of art and how art is valued. Then grab the markers, paints, pencils and crayons and make some art!
This review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books.