Wednesday, February 04, 2015

The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse by Patricia MacLachlan

Mothers. How they impact our lives! Did you know Picasso’s mother believed he was destined for greatness? ‘If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope,’ she told him. He became an artist . . . the renowned Pablo Picasso.

The Iridescence of Birds by Patricia MacLachlan gives us a glimpse into the childhood of another famous artist, Henri Matisse. The French painter was fascinated with the changing, shimmering effect of light on the colors of his pet pigeons. At his death he gave his beloved birds to his friend Picasso. Matisse studied art in Paris and in his later years created expressive cut paper designs. “My mother loved everything I did, " he said.

Hadley Hooper's illustrations are fabulous, and I especially love his use of the white spaces on each page to balance the composition. His playful patterns, created with relief printing and inspired by Matisse's art, resemble woodcuts.Read this book with children in kindergarten through third grade and afterward have fun making art together. Cut bird and leaf shapes out of foam, fabric, or cardstock and glue them onto a piece of cardboard. Roll paint lightly over the surface for a textured effect. Lay a piece of paper over the entire thing and rub. The raised areas will make a snazzy print!

And speaking of mothers, check out another picture book biography, Spic-and-Span!: Lillian Gilbreth's Wonder Kitchen. Gilbreth, the first woman elected to the National Academy of Engineering, relished her role of being a mother.

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