The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau

This post is part of Nonfiction Monday
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at Teacher Mentor Texts

(pub. 6.11.2012) 34 pages 

A True Tale with A Cherry On Top

A uthor: Michelle Markel
     and Illustrator:  Amanda Hall

haracter: Henri Rousseau

O verview from the jacket flap: 

      "Henri Rousseau loved nature, and basked in the beauty of the sunshine and the towering trees of Paris. He wanted to capture all of this, so he taught himself to paint. And then he worked until the jungles and animals and distant lands in his head came alive on the space of his canvases.
      Rousseau endured many harsh critics to create his brilliant paintings. Michelle Markel's vivid text and Amanda Hall's vibrant illustrations together artfully introduce young readers to this beloved painter."
T antalizing taste: 

"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.

Why? Because he loves nature. Because
when he strolls through the parks of Paris,
it's like the flowers open their hearts,
the trees spread their arms, and the sun
is a blushing ruby, all for him."
and something more: I didn't realize that Henri Rousseau began painting at age forty without formal training, and that his art was ridiculed year after year. Michelle Markel's Author's Note in The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau explains that he "gradually developed a following. Avant-garde artists and writers such as Picasso, Delaunay, Jarry, and Apollinaire admired his innocence and charm."
          And, although he is best known for his jungle paintings, he could never afford to leave Paris. Instead, he travelled in his mind. As he said to a journalist, "I don't know if you're like me ... but when I go into the glass houses and I see the strange plants of exotic lands, it seems to me that I enter into a dream. I feel that I'm somebody else completely."  The power of imagination! 


Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

Ooh, this sounds wonderful...I've put in a request for it at our library.

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

That's great! I think you'll like it, Tara. And I think you'll enjoy reading the artist's note at the back of the book, too -- an artist being inspired by an artist. Thanks for stopping by!