Books Into the Wild: Artists and Rebels Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] Fauves – The Wild Beast that is Matisse (Part 2 of 2)

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Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2016 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year.


Last week, I shared two picturebook biographies on Henri Matisse, one of my favourite artists. This week, I am glad to share two more recently published PBBs that look into the works of a truly luminous artist.

IMG_6782The Iridescence of Birds: A Book about Henri Matisse

Written by: Patricia Maclachlan Pictures by: Hadley Hooper
Published by: A Neal Porter Book: Roaring Brook Press, 2014 ISBN: 1596439483 (ISBN13: 9781596439481) 
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I was surprised to note that we haven’t featured this book yet as I read it last year and fell in love with it. Here, the reader gets a feel of how much Matisse’s mother influenced his style, his love for colours and texture:


Having been born in the far northernpart of France described to be overcast and gray – Matisse yearned for colours which his mother, who painted plates and decorated their walls with red rugs, fed him in abundance.


His mother also allowed him to mix colours for her paints and to arrange the flowers and fruits she bought from the market. This characterization is a little different from last week’s PBB Colorful Dreamer where Matisse’s parents were depicted to be quite worried about his being such a dreamer that they are afraid he won’t be able to find a suitable and regular occupation.


More than anything, it was this gift of seeing iridescence, the dancing of the colours with the light, that was his mother’s greatest gift to Matisse – one that was reflected deeply in his later art works. Teachers would also be happy to know that there are detailed Author’s and Illustrator’s Notes found at the end of the book which provided more information about Matisse, his life, and the creative process and research that went into the making of this book. It is here that I read how Matisse used to be part of a group of painters known as the Fauves – French for “wild beasts”  – perfect for our current reading theme.

Henri’s ScissorsIMG_6789

Written and Illustrated by: Jeanette Winter
Published by: Beach Lane Books, 2013 ISBN: 1442464852 (ISBN13: 9781442464858) 
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Similar to the first book, Winter also shared how much Matisse’s mother’s painting on plates awakened the desire in him for colour and art:


What I find fascinating about Jeanette Winter is her capacity to tell so much in just a few words. Somehow, she managed to incorporate all the significant details from practically all the other picturebooks I have shared here on Matisse – yet at the same time remaining sparse, with pages filled with glorious art:


Winter also mentioned how Matisse’s illness when he was old made it difficult for him to paint. And so he found a different medium – scissors and coloured paper which his assistants painstakingly prepared for him:


I also found it fascinating that he managed to draw the faces of his grandchildren on his bedroom’s ceiling by tying a piece of chalk to a long pole – this shows that art will find a way regardless of whether one’s constitution is weak – the spirit need only be willing. The Author’s Note found at the end of the book also described how Winter was inspired by Matisse’s large cut out found in the National Gallery in Washington. I hope to find that too in my lifetime.


Have you seen any of Matisse’s work up close? What did you like best about them?

2 comments on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] Fauves – The Wild Beast that is Matisse (Part 2 of 2)

  1. I have and love both these books, Myra. Both good in unique ways. I love Matisse’s work, especially his “Open Window”. Photos and paintings of windows are favorites.


  2. I really enjoyed The Iridescence of Birds, too. I like how each picture book biography gave you just a touch of something different!

    Liked by 1 person

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