A Vivid Biography of Van Gogh
Van Gogh and the Post-Impressionists for Kids: Their Lives and Ideas, 21 Activities by Carol Sabbeth (For Kids series)
Van Gogh and the Post-Impressionists for Kids follows the path of Vincent van Gogh and his artist peers Paul Gauguin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Signac, and Emile Bernard, all post-Impressionistists who appreciated Impressionism before them but wanted to take their art one step further. The book begins with a timeline of the Post-Impressionist era, and from there author Carol Sabbeth dives right in. In this 161-page book, Sabbeth thoroughly details van Gogh’s life from serious, sometimes melancholy boy to ambitious, stubborn artist, portraying everything from his temper to the origin of his sunflower paintings to his long list of relationships and family tribulations. In other words, it depicts him as a man and an artist together, a complex vision that shows faith in the reader’s ability to understand the difference and how van Gogh developed as both.
Pages of text are interspersed with full-page spreads of famous paintings in vivid color as well as letters and sketches. A variety of side-pages showcase Japanese prints, other artists, and some “closer looks” at specific paintings. Following the biography of van Gogh’s life and art, one chapter is given to each of the other four artists mentioned above, all including a “how to identify” section on how to differentiate between each artist’s style.
The back of the book includes a sizeable bibliography, image credits, and a well-rounded glossary, all things I love to see in kid’s non-fiction. In addition, the book has twenty-one activities throughout, from letter-writing to recipes and self-portraits, for kids to try themselves.
Author Sabbeth did a very thorough job, both in her research and in her writing, and I learned a lot about van Gogh as I read. (I could drop some facts and tidbits here, but I’ll let you discover those for yourself!) This book impressed me. It’s a book I would want in my classroom if the curriculum called for it, and with its vibrant images and break-up of information with facts and activities, it’s accessible to younger readers. It would be great as a research book for projects or as an interest book for kids obsessed with art.
For an artist who only sold one painting in his lifetime, he sure is well-loved, and his story is fascinating. Whether you like Vincent van Gogh or are just fond of biographies, this book is definitely worth a look! If you’re interested in other artists, check out Sabbeth’s other books: Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and Monet and the Impressionists for Kids.
Age 10+ (older readers will absorb more info)
Copyright May 2011
Image from www.amazon.com
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