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Henri's Scissors Hardcover – August 27, 2013
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From School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-At age 72, following surgery for cancer, Henri Matisse was too weak to paint. During his convalescence at the seaside, he picked up scissors and began cutting shapes from painted paper. In his own words, "It seems to me that I am in a second life." Winter's picture-book biography focuses on that second life, neatly summarizing his childhood and career in the first eight pages: "He kept on painting, forgot about law, and left his small town to be an artist in Paris." Winter captures the joy that Matisse found in cut paper, both through her acrylic and cut-paper illustrations and through quotes from his letters. The images are evocative of his art, with bright colors and rounded shapes. The first pages, depicting his youth and adulthood, are deeply framed like museum art, then transition to full-page compositions when his life changes due to illness. The author addresses his death with a light touch: "Then one night, Matisse walked into his paper garden, and the rainbow of shapes cradled the old artist and carried him into the heavens," where perhaps he now uses his scissors to make the stars in the night sky. Libraries with demand for picture-book biographies and art history will want to add this well-done title to their collections.-Suzanne Myers Harold, Multnomah County Library System, Portland, ORα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
* “Masterful picture-book biographer Winter (The Watcher, 2011) offers an elegant, accessible portrait of expressive artist Henri Matisse…. As an old man, Matisse becomes ill, and the book turns a stylistic corner, spending the balance of its pages exploring the changes in his circumstances and the subsequent development of his medium and his genius. Unable to paint, he begins cutting shapes from paper and dives into the process, allowing his shapes to grow with his imagination. And the book adapts in turn, the imagery now sprawling across pages, filling the space with rich color in exuberant compositions…. With a gentle narrative dotted with quotes from the artist himself, luminous illustrations, and a warm, celebratory spirit, this exemplary picture-book biography delivers a clear, sensitive portrait of the whole man, story and soul alike.” (Booklist, June 1, 2013, *STARRED REVIEW)
* "Simple, folk-style paintings show Matisse in a wheelchair in a studio amid his collages; in a quiet visual cue, a plant with oversize leaves suggests inspiration for their big, organic shapes. He continues to create until his death, another moment Winter handles gracefully…. Old age can be fertile and useful, Winter implies; disability doesn’t mean the end of creating, and triumph is possible where only sadness could have been foreseen. All of these messages lie obliquely in the text, but even readers who don’t dig that deep will share Matisse’s joy." (Publishers Weekly, May 27, 2013, *STARRED REVIEW)
“Winter captures the joy that Matisse found in cut paper, both through her acrylic and cut-paper illustrations and through quotes from his letters. The images are evocative of his art, with bright colors and rounded shapes…. The author addresses his death with a light touch…. Libraries with demand for picture-book biographies and art history will want to add this well-done title to their collections.” (School Library Journal, June 1, 2013)
"In her latest picture book biography...Winter focuses on Henri Matisse’s later life, during which the painter took up collage.... With text that is straightforward and unflowery, Winter relies, successfully, on the strength of her own art to capture the essence of Matisse’s. A brief author’s note explains her specific interest in this portion of the artist’s oeuvre." (Horn Book Magazine, September-October 2013)
"In her extensive picture-book–biography oeuvre, Winter has proven to be particularly attuned to selecting the just-right elements of her subjects’ complex lives while making them both accessible to and readily understood by young children.... Winter both describes and employs Matisse’s signature, late-career technique of brilliantly colored, hand-painted, cut-paper compositions. She enlivens the simple text with liberal yet judicious quotes from Matisse’s letters and comments from contemporaries. This is a beautifully designed book that will certainly connect with readers...the book is a charming introduction to a widely reproduced, child-friendly artist, one that children will assuredly encounter and affirmingly embrace." (Kirkus Reviews, June 2013)
“In ‘Henri’s Scissors,’ Jeanette Winter rushes through the story of Henri Matisse’s childhood, but no worries: it’s his second (far more interesting) childhood that fascinates her. After becoming one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, whose only peer, it could be argued, was the aggressively prolific Picasso, Matisse has grown old. Now infirm and confined to bed, he reflects on his past triumphs in a room colored in the deepest blues and purples. But inspiration strikes, and using a pair of common household scissors as his magic wand, Matisse cuts shapes out of brightly colored paper and transforms his sick-room into a mystical garden full of flowers and birds. Then, in the final and greatest feat of his career as artist-sorcerer, ‘the rainbow of shapes cradled the old artist and carried him into the heavens.’” (Dan Yaccarino The New York Times Book Review, August 25 2013)
"The accessibility of cut paper makes it a particularly child-appealing medium, and Matisse is certainly the grand master of the art, so audiences will be pleased to see the championing of this oeuvre...the art is strong and vigorous, with a hat-tip to Matisse himself in the form of the open window (a famous Matisse subject) that allows the old man to view the sea; the playfulness and imaginative employment of actual Matisse collage shapes effectively convey the way art and life vision can blend together." (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, October 2013)
"The young reader gets a taste of Matisse’s art and a flavor of his creativity in the late period of his life.... Share this picture book biography with the art teacher. Incorporate the title in a story hour about imagination, color, or the beginnings of modern art." (Library Media Connection, January/February 2014)