Third through sixth grades
Jacqueline Loumaye has written several books for children on artists. This book is part of a series called Art for Children, in which an artist is spotlighted. The text information matches the chronology at the back of the book.
I could not locate any awards for this book.
This is a book about the life of artist Vincent Van Gogh. The characters in the story, an uncle his niece and nephew, set out to authenticate a family painting as an original Van Gogh. Through the course of the book, they speak with experts and visit museums displaying his work where more information about Van Gogh is revealed. They travel to different parts of Europe, visiting different homes of the famous artist. During their travels, they learn more about Van Gogh’s childhood, and the different stages his art went through. At the end of the story, the painting is not authenticated, but the family is happy to have learned more about Vincent Van Gogh and his work.
National Art Education Standards:
Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and culture
Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others
The illustrations in this book consisted of a mix of watercolor illustrations by Claudine Roucha, reproductions of Van Gogh’s paintings, and photographs. At the back of the book is a listing of locations of Van Gogh’s work featured in the book. Photographic credits are also listed at the back and are varied in source. The illustrations are simple in this book, perhaps to not detract from the reproductions of Van Gogh’s work throughout the book.
Important access features in this book include a table of contents, glossary, chronology of events in Van Gogh’s life, a location guide to Van Gogh’s paintings in the story, and photographic credits.
The writing style is informal. The story is told from the grandfather’s point of view, which I found to be confusing to follow at times.
Use in My Classroom:
I would use this book during a study of famous artists, biographies, or a study of impressionialists artists.
My Response to the Book:
It took me awhile to get into this book. I was very interested in the subject matter so I kept reading. The format of the book threw me off some. I can appreciate the author’s attempt to make the book more interesting by having fictional characters learn more about Van Gogh in the search to authenticate their uncle’s painting as an original Van Gogh. After reading the book I found Van Gogh to be interesting enough on his own that just telling his story would be interesting enough. Van Gogh was quite disturbed and it is sad that he never lived to see his own fame. I think that may have helped with some of his problems.
Other books about Vincent van Gogh:
The Yellow House: Vincent van Gogh & Paul Gauguin Side by Side by Susan Goldman Rubin
The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles by Martin Gayford
Van Gogh (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists series) by Mike Venezia
Vincent Van Gogh: Sunflowers and Swirly Stars by Joan Holub
In the Garden with Van Gogh by Julie Merberg