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Vincent's Starry Night and Other Stories: A Children's History of Art Hardcover – August 23, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—There are numerous artist biographies and art primers for kids, but few surveys. Bird's is ambitious: a look at the history of art, from 40,000 BCE to 2014, through 68 fictionalized stories. In his introduction, the author discusses the desire of the artists to connect their "invisible life of thoughts and feelings" with the world, and the stories address just that—what the artists might have been thinking about when creating their art, and the objective of the representative work reproduced here. Art historians can only surmise artists' intentions in many works (the "Lion Man" figure carved out of a mammoth tusk), but others are well documented (Ai Weiwei's political statements). The 68 tales are grouped chronologically under subheadings, introduced with information about the era, the impact of technological advancements (the use of perspective, the camera), and so on, providing additional context. World art is included, but the focus is on the West. These selections offer an entry into the lives and works of the men and women represented, but perhaps too discreetly placed, given the audience, is a note in the credits that the (abundant) quotes are "literary inventions" unless otherwise stated. There is also no list of sources. Throughout, delightful watercolors add details, while informative illustrated spreads impart facts on hubs of creativity over the years: Angkor Wat in the 1100s, Florence in the 1400s, Amsterdam in the 1600s, New York in the 1950s. VERDICT A profusely illustrated overview of art with read-aloud appeal.—Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal
'One of the best children's non-fiction books I've read for years, this fantastic story collection explores the lives of some of the world's most famous artists, and the developments that influenced them ... The variety is brilliant, looking at key people from 40000 BC until the present day. The stories are by turns exciting, intriguing, emotional and mysterious ... Meticulously well-researched and utterly delightful.' Jennifer Bell, 'Sunday Best Children's Book of the Week'
'Vincent's Starry Night is a unique take on art history for children. Significant works of art are enveloped in narrative, which brings to life the context, environment, feel, sights, smells, thought life and dialogue between the artist and his world. Children's senses and imaginations are engaged ... Stories bring us closer to what we're learning, and that's part of what makes this such an exceptional book.' Michelle Sterling, @averyandaugustine
'This chronological globe-straddling compendium by Michael Bird ... is admirably broad, deep and thoughtful.' Meghan Cox Gurdon on the Best New Children's Books, Wall Street Journal