From School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-This book follows van Gogh from childhood through the development of his tumultuous artistic career, concluding with his untimely death. In tracing the events of the artist's life, the author explores his close relationship with his younger brother, Theo, through excerpts from their personal correspondence. Darker elements of van Gogh's life, such as alcoholism, mental illness, and suicide, are touched upon in a way that is honest but not gratuitous. Large, imaginative illustrations match the lyrical quality of the text, while bold brushstrokes, vivid color, and images of sunflowers subtly evoke the artist's style. Reproductions of van Gogh's paintings are deftly integrated into many of the illustrations, providing readers with a look at his artistic evolution. While a background in art history is not required for a basic understanding of this title, the casual name-dropping of van Gogh's artistic peers and oblique references to characteristics of Impressionism might be lost readers unfamiliar with the subject. Although the narrative is largely fact-based, thoughts and feelings are significantly fictionalized. Most notably, a recurring motif of the wind as a confidant and guiding force in the artist's life detracts from this title's appropriateness for school reports. Although beautifully written and illustrated, this title is an additional purchase for a limited audience.-Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This literary look at an artistic life, originally published in Italy, follows van Gogh’s many challenges and passions from childhood to death. His brother Theo plays a large role; in fact, Lossani says she was inspired by the siblings’ letters to write this title. Unfortunately, the book’s many quotations are undocumented, leaving it unclear whether any direct excerpts from the van Gogh brothers’ correspondence are actually included in the text. Fourteen reproductions of the artist’s works are integrated into the surreal,collage illustrations, which place portraits of the painter in color-saturated settings of floating windmills, shifting clouds, giant sunflowers, and splashing paint and are well-matched to the mood and tone of the words. While the text, written in lyrical stanzas, closes abruptly and may feel overlong for the picture-book format, the lines are descriptive and informative and may inspire young people to, like van Gogh, connect with nature, listen to their hearts, and ask themselves about their passions: “What will you do next? What will you become?” Grades 3-6. --Andrew Medlar