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The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau

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Henri Rousseau wanted to be an artist. But he had no formal training. Instead, he taught himself to paint. He painted until the jungles and animals and distant lands in his head came alive on the space of his canvases. Henri Rousseau endured the harsh critics of his day and created the brilliant paintings that now hang in museums around the world. Michelle Markel's vivid t Henri Rousseau wanted to be an artist. But he had no formal training. Instead, he taught himself to paint. He painted until the jungles and animals and distant lands in his head came alive on the space of his canvases. Henri Rousseau endured the harsh critics of his day and created the brilliant paintings that now hang in museums around the world. Michelle Markel's vivid text, complemented by the vibrant illustrations of Amanda Hall, artfully introduces young readers to the beloved painter and encourages all readers to persevere despite all odds.


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Henri Rousseau wanted to be an artist. But he had no formal training. Instead, he taught himself to paint. He painted until the jungles and animals and distant lands in his head came alive on the space of his canvases. Henri Rousseau endured the harsh critics of his day and created the brilliant paintings that now hang in museums around the world. Michelle Markel's vivid t Henri Rousseau wanted to be an artist. But he had no formal training. Instead, he taught himself to paint. He painted until the jungles and animals and distant lands in his head came alive on the space of his canvases. Henri Rousseau endured the harsh critics of his day and created the brilliant paintings that now hang in museums around the world. Michelle Markel's vivid text, complemented by the vibrant illustrations of Amanda Hall, artfully introduces young readers to the beloved painter and encourages all readers to persevere despite all odds.

30 review for The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau

  1. 5 out of 5

    Calista

    This is the biography about the amazing artist Henri Rousseau. I only knew a few of his paintings, but nothing about his life. He was a toll collector and at age 40 decided to teach himself to paint. He was bold enough, that every year he would take his artwork to a major art exhibit and show his work to the critics. The critics lambasted him and he would cut out the reviews and keep them. Each year he went back, until some younger artists decided there was something there. The artwork of this bo This is the biography about the amazing artist Henri Rousseau. I only knew a few of his paintings, but nothing about his life. He was a toll collector and at age 40 decided to teach himself to paint. He was bold enough, that every year he would take his artwork to a major art exhibit and show his work to the critics. The critics lambasted him and he would cut out the reviews and keep them. Each year he went back, until some younger artists decided there was something there. The artwork of this book is beautiful. I love the flowers and jungles and the last picture of him riding the tiger is amazing. I love that painting. It’s beautiful. I loved getting to learn about this artist and his story. It’s well done. The nephew was interested in the story here. He liked the picture of the tiger leaping into his room. There was a picture of the art critics and two of them looked like monkey’s in suits and he laughed at that. He thought this was ok. He gave this 3 stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

    I'm not ashamed to say it, though perhaps I should be. Still, it's true. Though I grew up in the middle class with a good education and a stint at a liberal arts college there are huge gaping gaps in my knowledge that have consistently been filled in over the years by children's books. I know that I am not alone in this. When I worked in NYPL's Central Children's Room we had any number of regular adult patrons that would come in seeking children's books on a variety of different topics so that t I'm not ashamed to say it, though perhaps I should be. Still, it's true. Though I grew up in the middle class with a good education and a stint at a liberal arts college there are huge gaping gaps in my knowledge that have consistently been filled in over the years by children's books. I know that I am not alone in this. When I worked in NYPL's Central Children's Room we had any number of regular adult patrons that would come in seeking children's books on a variety of different topics so that they could learn about them in a non-threatening fashion. At its best a children's book takes a complex subject and synthesizes it down to its most essential parts. Simple enough. But if you're dealing with a picture book biography, it then has to turn a human life in a cohesive (child friendly) story. No mean feat. So when I saw this picture book bio of the artist Henri Rousseau I was immediately arrested by its art. Then I sort of came to realize that when it came to the man himself, I knew nothing. Next to nothing. I may never win a Jeopardy round or a game of Trivial Pursuit but thanks to great books like this one I may someday attain the education of a seven-year-old. There are worse fates in the world. These days, seven-year-olds get all the good stuff. Your everyday average forty-year-old toll collector doesn't usually drop everything to become a painter, yet that's exactly what one did back in the 19th century. His name was Henri Rousseau and though he never took an art course in his life (art lessons aren't exactly available on a toll collector's budget) he does his research, looks at art, sits himself down, and begins to paint. He's incredibly excited after his first big exhibition but his reviews say mostly "mean things" about his art. Still, he clips them, saves them, and continues to paint. Over the years he meets with very little success but is inspired by greenhouses and the lush topiary found inside. He can't afford to ever see a jungle of his own so he makes them up. Finally, after decades and decades, the new young crop of artists takes note of his work. At last, he is celebrated and appreciated and his naïf style is seen for what it truly is; Simultaneously ahead of its time, and timeless. As far as I can tell the picture book biography can go in a certain number of directions when it comes to its interior art. It can seek to emulate the original artist, mimicking their style with mixed results. Or it can eschew the original artist altogether and only show their paintings as images on walls or in the notes at the book's end. Artist Amanda Hall takes a slightly different take with her art, inserting Mr. Rousseau into his own works. As she says at the end "Instead of my usual pencil crayon and watercolor technique, I used both watercolor and acrylics for the illustrations, as I wanted to get close to the feel of Rousseau's own paintings. I decided to break the rules of scale and perspective to reflect his unusual way of seeing the world. For some of the illustrations I drew directly on his actual paintings, altering them playfully to help tell the story." That right there might be the book's difference. I think that for many of us, the joy of an Henri Rousseau painting lies not in the composition necessarily (though that is a plus) but the sheer feel of the piece. Rousseau's jungle scenes do not look or feel like anyone else's and Hall has done a stellar job capturing, if not the exact feel, then a winning replica of it for kids. The endpapers of this book are particularly telling. Open the cover and there you find all the usual suspects in a Rousseau landscape, each one creeping and peeking out at you from behind the ferns and oversized blossoms. A poorly made picture book bio will lay out its pictures in a straightforward dull-as-dishwater manner never deviating or even attempting to inject so much as an artistic whim. The interesting thing about Hall's take on Rousseau is that while, yes, she plays around with scale and perspective willy-nilly, she also injects a fair amount of whimsy. Not just the usual artist-flying-through-the-air-to-represent-his-mental-journey type of stuff either. There is a moment early on when a tiny Rousseau pulling a handcart approaches gargantuan figures that look down upon him with a mixture of pop-eyed surprise and, in some cases, anger. Amongst them, wearing the coat and tails of gentlemen, are two dogs and one gorilla. Later Hall indicates the passing of the years by featuring three portraits of Rousseau, hair growing grey, beard cut down to a jaunty mustache. On the opposite page three critics perch on mountains, smirking behind their hands or just gaping in general. It's the weirdness that sets this book apart and makes it better than much of its ilk. It's refreshing to encounter a bio that isn't afraid to make things odd if it has to. And for some reason that I just can't define . . . it definitely has to. But to get back a bit to the types of bios out there for kids, as I mentioned before Hall inserts Rousseau directly into his own painting when we look at his life. Done poorly this would give the impression that he actually did live in jungles or traipse about with lions, and I'm sure there will be the occasional young reader who will need some clarification on that point. But in terms of teaching the book, Hall has handed teachers a marvelous tool. You could spend quite a lot of time flipping between the paintings here and the ones Rousseau actually created. Kids could spot the differences, the similarities, and get a good sense of how one inspired the other. Near the end of the book Hall also slips in a number of cameos from contemporary artists, and even goes so far as to include a key identifying those individuals on the last few pages. Imagine how rich an artistic unit would be if a teacher were to take that key and pair it with the author bios of THOSE people as well. For Gertrude Stein just pull out Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude by Jonah Winter. Pablo Picasso? A quick look at The Boy Who Bit Picasso by Antony Penrose. Lucky kids. Just as the art of a picture book biography can go any number of directions, the storytelling is in the same boat. You want to tell the life of a man. Fair enough. Do you encompass everything from birth to death, marking dates and important places along the way? Do you synthesize that life down to a single moment and then use your Author's Note at the end to tell why that person is important at all (many is the Author's Note forced to do the heavy lifting). Or do you just zero in on what it is that made that person famous in the first place and look at how they struggled with their gift? Author Michelle Markel opts for the latter. A former journalist, Markel first cut her teeth on the author bio with her lovely Dreamer from the Village The Story of Marc Chagall. Finding that these stories of outsider artists appealed to her, the move to Rousseau was a natural one. One that focuses on the man's attempts to become an artist in the face of constant, near unending critical distaste. Markel's gift here is that she is telling the story of someone overcoming the odds (to a certain extent . . . I mean he still died a pauper an all) in the face of folks telling him what he could or couldn't do. It's inspirational but on a very gentle scale. You're not being forced to hear a sermon on the joys of stick-to-itativeness. She lands the ending too, effortlessly transitioning from his first successful debut at an exhibition to how he is remembered today. I remember having to learn about artists and composers in elementary school and how strange and dull they all seemed. Just a list of dead white men that didn't have anything to do with my life or me. The best picture book bios seek to correct that old method of teaching. To make their subjects not merely "come alive" as the saying goes but turn into flesh and blood people. You learn best about a person when that person isn't perfect, has troubles, and yet has some spark, some inescapable something about them that attracts notice. A combination of smart writing and smarter art is ideal, particularly when you're dealing with picture book biographies. And The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau is nothing if not smart. It typifies the kind of bios I hope we see more of in the future. And, with any luck, it will help to create the kinds of people I'd like to see more of in the future. People like Henri Rousseau. Whatta fella. Whatta book. For ages 4-8.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mir

    Beautiful, just like the Surreal Art of Leonora Carrington book I recently read by the same author/artist pair. Beautiful, just like the Surreal Art of Leonora Carrington book I recently read by the same author/artist pair.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lisa (not getting friends updates) Vegan

    I adored this picture book. I thoroughly enjoyed the interpretation of Rousseau’s art, and I loved most of the illustrations. I really liked the story. I was touched and heartbroken and inspired by Rousseau’s life and experiences. This is a fabulous book for people of all ages who need encouragement to persevere in pursuing their dreams and goals, who create or want to create art or other work, who appreciate art and art history, and/or who enjoy Rousseau’s paintings, and who appreciate nature an I adored this picture book. I thoroughly enjoyed the interpretation of Rousseau’s art, and I loved most of the illustrations. I really liked the story. I was touched and heartbroken and inspired by Rousseau’s life and experiences. This is a fabulous book for people of all ages who need encouragement to persevere in pursuing their dreams and goals, who create or want to create art or other work, who appreciate art and art history, and/or who enjoy Rousseau’s paintings, and who appreciate nature and have interest in art history. While this is a children’s picture book, I think it will also have special meaning for adults, especially older adults, who want to begin a new endeavor, and for anyone who has been discouraged by others’ opinions and needs a bit of a boost to believe in themselves. This book would make a perfect gift for anyone of any age who has been told no or who has received rejections to their dreams or work. Very inspiring!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  6. 4 out of 5

    Krista the Krazy Kataloguer

    I fell in love with Rousseau's The Sleeping Gypsy when I first saw it as a kid. I could picture myself out there in the desert under the stars, holding perfectly still, while the lion approaches. In fact, I have a small print of it hanging in my library room. My second favorite is, of course, The Dream. I love his bright, warm colors, and all the vegetation and birds and animals. I knew nothing about the painter, however, until I read this book. To think that he was self-taught! What the book di I fell in love with Rousseau's The Sleeping Gypsy when I first saw it as a kid. I could picture myself out there in the desert under the stars, holding perfectly still, while the lion approaches. In fact, I have a small print of it hanging in my library room. My second favorite is, of course, The Dream. I love his bright, warm colors, and all the vegetation and birds and animals. I knew nothing about the painter, however, until I read this book. To think that he was self-taught! What the book didn't explain was why he was so drawn to painting. I'll have to read a longer biography of him to find out. I enjoyed the illustrations in this book because Amanda Hall painted them in Rousseau's style, and included in two places real people who knew and supported Rousseau. It's sad that he wasn't more popular while he was alive, but at least he's appreciated today. I wish the author had included more books for children filled with his actual paintings, as I think that children would be drawn to their bright colors and jungle subjects. Recommended!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    This wonderful new biography of a self-taught man who started his art career late in life and with little recognition also attests to determination and persistence amid criticism. As Henri Rousseau follows his dream to paint, he finds the path he has chosen to be a sometimes lonely one. The text describes his love for nature and his reliance on the 1889 World's Fair in Paris for inspiration, but despite his hard work, critics made fun of his work. The text is engaging, filled with sparkling phra This wonderful new biography of a self-taught man who started his art career late in life and with little recognition also attests to determination and persistence amid criticism. As Henri Rousseau follows his dream to paint, he finds the path he has chosen to be a sometimes lonely one. The text describes his love for nature and his reliance on the 1889 World's Fair in Paris for inspiration, but despite his hard work, critics made fun of his work. The text is engaging, filled with sparkling phrases that evoke Rousseau's own paintings as the author describes how Rousseau sees that "the sun is a blushing ruby, all for him" (unpaged). She also captures the painter's total immersion is his work, sometimes becoming "so startled by what he paints that he has to open the window to let in some air" (unpaged). Of course, Rousseau has the last laugh on all those critics who dismissed his work since their names have been long-forgotten while his and his work live on, attracting new admirers and continuing to influence painters today. The acrylic and watercolor illustrations are just as stunning as the text, a loving tribute to a painter who never could afford to travel to the jungles for which he and his paintings are now so well known. It would be hard for me to choose a favorite page since I loved them all.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ms. B

    Gorgeous story, gorgeous illustrations. Henri Rousseau ignored the critics and followed his passion.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shiloah

    Beautiful! Inspiring! Great for read aloud!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tasha

    This striking picture book is a biography of the artist, Henri Rousseau. It tells the story of this man as he started to do art at forty years old. Rousseau dreamt of being an artist because he saw so much beauty and color everywhere. He couldn’t afford lessons, so he read many books to learn techniques and structure. At age 41, Rousseau entered an art exhibition for the first time. The art experts said mean things about his art, but Rousseau kept painting. Inspired by the World’s Fair in Paris, This striking picture book is a biography of the artist, Henri Rousseau. It tells the story of this man as he started to do art at forty years old. Rousseau dreamt of being an artist because he saw so much beauty and color everywhere. He couldn’t afford lessons, so he read many books to learn techniques and structure. At age 41, Rousseau entered an art exhibition for the first time. The art experts said mean things about his art, but Rousseau kept painting. Inspired by the World’s Fair in Paris, he began to draw jungles. Rousseau kept entering exhibitions and kept getting rude things written about his art. He kept on painting, eventually getting accepted by the younger artists in Paris, like Pablo Picasso. By the end of his life, no one was laughing or scorning his art. Rousseau had not just proven himself to the critics, but to the entire world. Read the rest of my review on my blog, Waking Brain Cells.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    Picture book biography of Rousseau illustrated in a style very reminiscent of Rosseau's work, with flat, bright colors. Much I did not know -- he did not start painting until around age 40 (never too late to follow your dreams!), was self-taught, and critics really did not like/appreciate his work. A younger group of artists DID recognize Rousseau's talent later in his life. I love how historical figures are included in the illustrations -- in the back the illustrator provides a diagram of "who's Picture book biography of Rousseau illustrated in a style very reminiscent of Rosseau's work, with flat, bright colors. Much I did not know -- he did not start painting until around age 40 (never too late to follow your dreams!), was self-taught, and critics really did not like/appreciate his work. A younger group of artists DID recognize Rousseau's talent later in his life. I love how historical figures are included in the illustrations -- in the back the illustrator provides a diagram of "who's who" -- including Picasso, Gertrude & Leo Stein, Alice B. Tolkas. Nicely use of language as well. For example, in answer to "why" begin painting: "Because he loves nature. Because when he strolls through the parks of Paris, it's like the flowers open their hearts, the trees spread their arms, and the sun is a blushing ruby, all for him." The facing page is filled with brilliant orange & red flowers, a round orange sun, and purple hued leaves . . . an interesting color combination. Amanda Hall's illustrations are watercolor and acrylics.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    This picture book presents Henri Rousseau as an artist who painted because he loved nature, and wanted to paint it as he saw it. He was already 40 when he began to paint, and was ridiculed by critics for his "child-like" style. But he persisted. I imagine that in real life, Rousseau, like most people, was discouraged by the criticism, but this story paints an uplifting, resilient, "do what you love because you love it" picture. Amanda Hall was the perfect artist for the book. Her art is wonderfu This picture book presents Henri Rousseau as an artist who painted because he loved nature, and wanted to paint it as he saw it. He was already 40 when he began to paint, and was ridiculed by critics for his "child-like" style. But he persisted. I imagine that in real life, Rousseau, like most people, was discouraged by the criticism, but this story paints an uplifting, resilient, "do what you love because you love it" picture. Amanda Hall was the perfect artist for the book. Her art is wonderful... reminiscent of Rousseau's work, with great imaginary and symbolic touches. Tigers leap from paintings, gardens appear from Henri's head, judges tower as giants (not to mention a monkey or two) over a tiny Henri presenting his paintings. This was a picture book at it's best, a perfect melding of art and words, an encouraging and inspiring story of an artist who didn't work for fame or riches (neither of which he achieved during his lifetime), but worked because he loved doing it. I am happy that he did, as I've been able to see the world through his eyes.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Markel presents a child-friendly and interesting career biography of the artist, Rousseau. The story is well-written , and the illustrations are interesting and gorgeous. Both the writing and the illustrations will appeal to children and adults. Markel's focus on Rousseau's continual efforts, repeated failures, and eventual success will expose children to the relationship between perseverance, having thick skin, and the potential for success, regardless of background. I highly recommend this boo Markel presents a child-friendly and interesting career biography of the artist, Rousseau. The story is well-written , and the illustrations are interesting and gorgeous. Both the writing and the illustrations will appeal to children and adults. Markel's focus on Rousseau's continual efforts, repeated failures, and eventual success will expose children to the relationship between perseverance, having thick skin, and the potential for success, regardless of background. I highly recommend this book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hal

    There are two things that make this book stand head and shoulders above many other works: the clear, evocative, concise writing AND the stunning, imaginative, lush illustrations. I found the subject matter intriguing and significant. Although I was quite familiar with the famous imagery of Henri Rousseau, there was so much about his life that I DIDN'T know before I read this wonderful book. I HIGHLY recommend it to parents, teachers, and art appreciators of all ages! -- H A L There are two things that make this book stand head and shoulders above many other works: the clear, evocative, concise writing AND the stunning, imaginative, lush illustrations. I found the subject matter intriguing and significant. Although I was quite familiar with the famous imagery of Henri Rousseau, there was so much about his life that I DIDN'T know before I read this wonderful book. I HIGHLY recommend it to parents, teachers, and art appreciators of all ages! -- H A L

  15. 5 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    A beautiful introduction to the artist and his bold, dreamy vision.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Richie Partington

    Richie’s Picks: THE FANTASTIC JUNGLES OF HENRI ROUSSEAU by Michelle Markel and Amanda Hall, ill., Eerdman’s, June 2012, 36p., ISBN: 978-0-8028-5364-6 “Walking through forests of palm tree apartments Scoff at the monkeys who live in their dark tents Down by the waterhole, drunk every Friday Eating their nuts, saving their raisins for Sunday Lions and tigers who wait in the shadows They’re fast but their lazy, and sleep in green meadows” -- “Bungle in the Jungle” by Ian Anderson (recorded in Henri Rousse Richie’s Picks: THE FANTASTIC JUNGLES OF HENRI ROUSSEAU by Michelle Markel and Amanda Hall, ill., Eerdman’s, June 2012, 36p., ISBN: 978-0-8028-5364-6 “Walking through forests of palm tree apartments Scoff at the monkeys who live in their dark tents Down by the waterhole, drunk every Friday Eating their nuts, saving their raisins for Sunday Lions and tigers who wait in the shadows They’re fast but their lazy, and sleep in green meadows” -- “Bungle in the Jungle” by Ian Anderson (recorded in Henri Rousseau’s city of Paris) “One day Henri reads about a big art exhibition. He puts his canvases in a handcart and wheels them to the building where the show will be held. He’s forty-one years old, and this is the very first time he’ll display his work! He can hardly wait to hear what the experts will say. “Mean things. That’s what most of them write. But Henri snips out the articles anyway, and pastes them in a scrapbook.” There are all sorts of examples that come to mind about those who faced setbacks or were ridiculed for their attempts to do something different. I’m sitting here thinking of John Glenn’s scathing testimony about how ridiculous it would be to have women in space (which is quoted in Tanya Lee Stone’s ALMOST ASTRONAUTS). And I’m thinking about Peggy Seeger’s feminist story song “I’m Gonna Be an Engineer.” And how they laughed at Dumbo – until he did get off the ground. And I’m thinking about how Steven Spielberg applied three times for admission to USC’s School of Cinematic Arts – and was rejected all three times. And how Dr. Seuss’s first book, AND TO THINK THAT I SAW IT ON MULBERRY STREET was rejected twenty-seven times before he finally found a publisher for it. I’ve actually had dinner with one of the twelve British editors who turned down the first Harry Potter manuscript before Jo Rowling sold it to Bloomsbury. I’m sitting here thinking about how I’ve been rejected and/or laughed at more times than I have fingers and toes. And that’s just this year! THE FANTASTIC JUNGLES OF HENRI ROUSSEAU begins when Henri is a forty year-old toll collector who decides he wants to be an artist. He has the audacity to just go for it, buying himself canvas, paint, and brushes, taking a close look at some plants and animals, and then just starting to paint. For all that THE FANTASTIC JUNGLES OF HENRI ROUSSEAU is, in fact, an outstanding picture book biography about France’s famous artist, I see this far more importantly being a story of believing in one’s self and just ignoring those who would keep you in your little box, keep you on the ground. My gosh! This guy is a friggin’ toll collector. Who does he presume to think he is, trying to paint without lessons and without coming up through the old boys network. You can just imagine those snooty Paris dudes telling him, “Hey, don’t quit your day job, buddy!” We don’t get to see Henri as a child. But I am betting that there was someone there who taught the kid to believe in himself. Or he was lucky and encountered someone who modeled this sort of behavior. “We-de-de-de De-de-de-de-de We-um-um-a-way A-wimoweh, a-wimoweh A-wimoweh, a-wimoweh A-wimoweh, a-wimoweh” --“The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” written in the 1920s by Solomon Linda The illustrations, which are based on Henri Rousseau’s art, are a total kick. I love the bold tones of the jungle flowers and the whimsical nature of the visual story. I adore the absolutely killer spread of a lion at night, standing over the dreaming artist, the full moon winking overhead. Encouraging young people to follow their own bliss can really make a big difference in their lives. This wonderful picture book provides a great example of one guy who found the key to doing just that. Richie Partington Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.com [email protected] Moderator http://groups.yahoo.com/group/middle_... http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/people/facult...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    1) Twin Text - The Sandal Artist by Kathleen Pelley, 2012. 2) Rationale - The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau chronicles how Rousseau struggled to become an artist. He did not begin painting until he was forty, and it took twenty years for anyone to take him seriously. Rousseau would wander Paris looking for inspiration, teaching himself to paint flowers, plants, and animals. He works hard year after year to perfect his art, and in the end, he becomes one of the most "gifted self-taught artis 1) Twin Text - The Sandal Artist by Kathleen Pelley, 2012. 2) Rationale - The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau chronicles how Rousseau struggled to become an artist. He did not begin painting until he was forty, and it took twenty years for anyone to take him seriously. Rousseau would wander Paris looking for inspiration, teaching himself to paint flowers, plants, and animals. He works hard year after year to perfect his art, and in the end, he becomes one of the most "gifted self-taught artists in history." In The Sandal Artist, Roberto is a poor artist who wants to become famous and successful. However, he refuses to paint the world around him, finding it beneath his abilities. An old cobbler gives Roberto a pair of sandals and tells him to walk around in them because walking in another's shoes will give him a new perspective on life. Roberto begins to see the world differently and start to appreciate the beauty in life. I think that this book could extend the learning from The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau because it focuses on a man who already has talent but refuses to practice or to even try to see the beauty around him - very much the opposite of Rousseau. Students could discuss not only the beauty of the illustrations in each book and in art, but could also discuss the ideas of perseverance, hard work, and the importance of practice if you want to be good at something. The twin text could also lead to some serious discussion about attitude and its impact on a person's outlook and success in life. 3) The sequence of The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau is chronological. Readers begin the story when Rousseau is forty, and it follows him to old age where he paints one of his most famous works, "The Dream." The book chronicles the struggles Rousseau faced throughout those years in the order in which they happened. 4) Strategy Application - After reading The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau, introduce The Sandal Artist. Then using a problem/solution graphic organizer, have students identify Rousseau's problem and what he did to solve his problem. Using the same organizer, as we read The Sandal Artist, students can identify Roberto's problem. Then, we can stop and predict a solution based on what we know about how Rousseau solved his. Once we have Roberto's story, we can identify the solution to his problem and discuss why each artist's solution was the best for him.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Margo Tanenbaum

    The life and art of French artist Henri Rousseau are vividly brought to life in a recent release by author Michelle Markel and illustrator Amanda Hall. Rousseau is best known for his post-impressionist paintings depicting jungle scenes, although he never left France. Rousseau, we learn from Markel's succinct yet poetic text, wants to be an artist, even though he is 40 years old, a toll collector, and has never had any art training. "Why? Because he loves nature. Because when he strolls through t The life and art of French artist Henri Rousseau are vividly brought to life in a recent release by author Michelle Markel and illustrator Amanda Hall. Rousseau is best known for his post-impressionist paintings depicting jungle scenes, although he never left France. Rousseau, we learn from Markel's succinct yet poetic text, wants to be an artist, even though he is 40 years old, a toll collector, and has never had any art training. "Why? Because he loves nature. Because when he strolls through the parks of Paris, it's like the flowers open their hearts, the trees spread their arms, and the sun is a blushing ruby, all for him." With no money for art lessons, Rousseau studies the paintings at the Louvre, photographs, illustrations, animals at the zoo, and leaves, plants and flowers from the local botanical garden, where he is particularly enraptured by the tropical plants. Although his work is ridiculed by the art critics, Henri perseveres, spending all his money on art supplies and supplementing his income by giving music lessons. Although the art establishment continues to belittle his work, several younger artists, including the already well-known Picasso, eventually recognize his talent. Now, of course, his paintings are in museums world-wide, and he is recognized as an artistic genius. The illustrations by Amanda Hall pay tribute to Rousseau's "primitive" style, with its flattened shapes, vivid colors, detailed leaves and plants, and unusual perspective. Many of the illustrations draw directly on Rousseau's paintings for inspiration, and adults will recognize some of his most famous works such as "Sleeping Gypsy." Even the endpapers echo Rousseau's easily recognizable style, with its jungle leaves, flowers, and animals. To better emulate the feel of Rousseau's paintings, Hall worked in watercolor and acrylics. She also incorporates some of his famous friends into her illustrations, and in the afterword a key is provided to see who is who in those spreads. I would have liked to see some reproductions of Rousseau's actual paintings in the afterword, but these can easily be found online for those who would like to explore further the fascinating works of this self-taught artist.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dolly

    Ever since the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Books Group here at Goodreads chose artists for their January 2013 discussion, I have been borrowing all of the picture books about artists that I can find at our local library. This is an interesting book about Henri Rousseau. It describes the beginnings of his artistic career and the struggles he had to gain acceptance for his artwork. The narrative is short and does not overwhelm the reader with too many details. But I found the information t Ever since the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Books Group here at Goodreads chose artists for their January 2013 discussion, I have been borrowing all of the picture books about artists that I can find at our local library. This is an interesting book about Henri Rousseau. It describes the beginnings of his artistic career and the struggles he had to gain acceptance for his artwork. The narrative is short and does not overwhelm the reader with too many details. But I found the information to be enlightening and inspiring, especially since I find myself in the same point in my own life, wishing to make a dramatic change in my career and follow my dreams and passions rather than simply pursuing money or stability. The illustrations are simply wonderful and help to convey Rousseau's artistic style and his love for jungles and nature. I have to admit that I really love reading books like this with our girls, as I find that I learn as much as they do about the person. We really enjoyed reading this book together.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Johanna

    Not only is this book adorable and educational, it is downright inspirational to kids: "Henri Rousseau wants to be an artist. Not a single person has ever told him he is talented. He's a toll collector. He's forty years old. But he buys some canvas, paint, and brushes, and starts painting anyway." At 23 years old, I'm not ashamed to admit that I very much enjoyed this book, from the bright and amusing art work, to the story of Rousseau and his pure determination to become a respected artist (I even fou Not only is this book adorable and educational, it is downright inspirational to kids: "Henri Rousseau wants to be an artist. Not a single person has ever told him he is talented. He's a toll collector. He's forty years old. But he buys some canvas, paint, and brushes, and starts painting anyway." At 23 years old, I'm not ashamed to admit that I very much enjoyed this book, from the bright and amusing art work, to the story of Rousseau and his pure determination to become a respected artist (I even found myself cheering him on through the story- you have to love the man's grit and tenacity!). I am somewhat embarassed to say that I had no previous knowledge of Rousseau before this book, which, in its abbreviated simplicity, fairly well caught me up to speed, and I now plan on doing a little more of my own research to learn about this interesting artist. As a true kid at heart, I can say without hesitation that this is precicely the kind of book that a child would love to be read again and again. I look forward to passing this book on to a child to treasure! I have received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    I have to love a juvenile biography that starts with the lines: "Henri Rousseau wants to be an artist. Not a single person has ever told him he is talented. He is a toll collector. He is forty years old." Rousseau was always poor and he didn't receive acclaim until the end of his life, when modern painters like Picasso 'discovered' him. This beautiful book, which is in keeping with Rousseau's attitudes and primitive style, does him justice. This is a good, unusual title for librarians to give to I have to love a juvenile biography that starts with the lines: "Henri Rousseau wants to be an artist. Not a single person has ever told him he is talented. He is a toll collector. He is forty years old." Rousseau was always poor and he didn't receive acclaim until the end of his life, when modern painters like Picasso 'discovered' him. This beautiful book, which is in keeping with Rousseau's attitudes and primitive style, does him justice. This is a good, unusual title for librarians to give to parents who want to teach their children about the fine arts.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jim Erekson

    So while the words of this book are biographical, the illustrations are a clear presentation of Rousseau's style. Hall did a remarkable job of keeping consistent with this stylistic mimicry while inventing scenes that were her own. Like so many modern artist biographies, this one emphasizes the narrative of 'artist persists despite critical rejection' (along with 'he died poor and not so famous'). I'm not sure what to make of that narrative today--why is it the accepted story of an artist's life So while the words of this book are biographical, the illustrations are a clear presentation of Rousseau's style. Hall did a remarkable job of keeping consistent with this stylistic mimicry while inventing scenes that were her own. Like so many modern artist biographies, this one emphasizes the narrative of 'artist persists despite critical rejection' (along with 'he died poor and not so famous'). I'm not sure what to make of that narrative today--why is it the accepted story of an artist's life?

  23. 5 out of 5

    Elyza

    Before this book I didn't know anything about Henri Rousseau. Now that I've read it I'm curious to know more! It was a lovely book with gorgeous paintings, the illustrator did a wonderful job portraying his art and yet still making it her own. I loved how the author had real contemporaries of Mr. Rousseau's time, and little number guides to show you who was who. I would really like it if this was a new series of children's books about famous painters! Before this book I didn't know anything about Henri Rousseau. Now that I've read it I'm curious to know more! It was a lovely book with gorgeous paintings, the illustrator did a wonderful job portraying his art and yet still making it her own. I loved how the author had real contemporaries of Mr. Rousseau's time, and little number guides to show you who was who. I would really like it if this was a new series of children's books about famous painters!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    Don't ever give up. Henri Rousseau picked up his first paint and brushes at age 40, then continued to annually submit paintings to Salons around Paris to great ridicule, personifying persistence. Charming illustrations in which Rousseau's real paintings are cleverly edited to present the story as it moves from artistic unknown to well-loved "naive" artiste, friend to Pablo Picasso & Gertrude Stein. The text is middle grade friendly but full of life and effervescent vocabulary. Don't ever give up. Henri Rousseau picked up his first paint and brushes at age 40, then continued to annually submit paintings to Salons around Paris to great ridicule, personifying persistence. Charming illustrations in which Rousseau's real paintings are cleverly edited to present the story as it moves from artistic unknown to well-loved "naive" artiste, friend to Pablo Picasso & Gertrude Stein. The text is middle grade friendly but full of life and effervescent vocabulary.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Kotkin

    Inspiring picture book biography of the self-taught artist Henri Rousseau, a toll collector who started painting when he was 40 years old. The man who brought us such lush tropical jungles never saw one in person due to his financial constraints. Lyrical text conveys the true spirit of this talented, determined man and his life. Gorgeous, vibrantly colored illustrations invoke the style of Rousseau but with a uniqueness and child-friendly flavor.

  26. 5 out of 5

    John of Canada

    One of my plans for the new year is to learn as much about art and artists as possible.This book was a great start.The artwork was fun and representative.I am very interested in the Salons of Paris and the battles between creativeness and the status quo.I will read more of Markel.Next up Marc Chagall!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nitza Campos

    A wonderful story about never giving up your dreams and doing what you love, despite the critics. The illustrations in this book are colorful and vivid. This book is a wonderful way to introduce Henri Rousseau.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carol Ekster

    This is a great picture book biography. It's interesting and Rousseau's story will be inspirational to children - how he was made fun of by critics at first, but then was accepted and his work appreciated. He didn't give up his dream. Perfect illustrations for the story. Well done! This is a great picture book biography. It's interesting and Rousseau's story will be inspirational to children - how he was made fun of by critics at first, but then was accepted and his work appreciated. He didn't give up his dream. Perfect illustrations for the story. Well done!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Paul Hankins

    Wouldn't this one be a neat inclusion in the art classroom? Wouldn't this one be a neat inclusion in the art classroom?

  30. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    positively beautiful book, story and illustrations. I can't wait to try Rousseau for my Exploring Great Artists program now! positively beautiful book, story and illustrations. I can't wait to try Rousseau for my Exploring Great Artists program now!

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