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Smoking Mirror: An Encounter with Paul Gauguin (Art Encounters) Hardcover – September 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 610L (What's this?)
  • Series: Art Encounters
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Watson-Guptill (September 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823048632
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823048632
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,715,454 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up–It is 1891 and Joe Sloan, a half-Mexican, half-American sailor from California, has recently disembarked in Tahiti. His friend Robert was murdered minutes after they arrived, and Joe is left with feelings of grief and revenge. To fulfill a pledge to his friend, he searches for and finds Tehane, the girl Robert loved. When Paul Gauguin arrives in the small village, Joe has several encounters with him; most of them involve insults and punches, but they become friends. Joe's relationship with Tehane also changes as they fall in love. But she, along with the rest of her village, doesn't trust the French artist, which causes a rift in their relationship. This novel is likely to lose readers. In the first three chapters alone, the author begins to develop several topics–the death of Robert, the death of the Tahitian king, the death of the Tahitian culture and way of life, Joe's despair and suicidal thoughts, his need for revenge, and the search for Tehane. Many of these plot threads have acceptable conclusions. Others seem to be dropped altogether. The initial encounters with Gauguin seem to be added as an afterthought, and dialogue with him is often stilted. When readers finally get to know the artist, in the second half of the novel, he becomes a more developed character. Overall, this story is not likely to sustain readers' interest.–Heather E. Miller, Homewood Public Library, AL

From Booklist

Gr. 9-12. Like other titles in the new Art Encounters series, this weaves biographical facts about a famous artist into a compelling novel. Here, the narrator is 15-year-old Joe Sloan, a Mexican American who flees his unhappy home, becomes a sailor, and lands in Tahiti in the 1890s, just as Paul Gauguin arrives. In a remote village, Joe forms an intense friendship with the mercurial Gauguin and falls deeply in love with a Tahitian girl. Gauguin's complicated, condescending views of the Tahitians as "noble savages" may jar contemporary readers, as might moments of violence: throughout, Joe plots to avenge a friend's murder; and a subplot that centers on smuggling leads to a heart-pounding conclusion. Rees has clearly done his research, and he admirably incorporates Gauguin's work and voice (a few famous quotes are included) into a romantic coming-of-age story that asks compelling questions about how artists create and where their lives and art intersect. An afterword and a time line of Gauguin's life will help readers separate fact from fiction. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Brent Hartinger on March 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is such a masterfully written book. Even apart from the fact that it is based on historical events (interesting enough!), I thought the story worked so well as just a damn good story. If you have any interest at all in Paul Gauguin (or even if you don't!), I highly recommend this book.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Cyclops on February 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is soooo cool! about a guy who gets revenge for his best friend's death at the hands of pirates. paul gaggin is in it too. he was a famous artist. he painted lots of pictures and had sex with lots of hot Tahitian girls! then he died of siphilis!
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