The Children’s Book Review | May 11, 2018
Written by Barb Rosenstock
Illustrated by Mary Grandpré
Age Range: 4-8
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books (2017)
What to Expect: History, Art, Biography
Vincent Van Gogh is a famous artist: everyone knows his name, recognizes his paintings, revers his originality and his visionary style. That doesn’t, however, mean that he was appreciated and understood in his own life. Like so many artists, Van Gogh faced hostility, incomprehension, and disappointment from friends, family, and community. This beautiful picture book tells the story of his life from the point of view of the artist’s restless quest for vision and creation, culminating with the satisfaction of finally completing The Night Sky.
This picture book is a masterpiece of lyrical text working hand-in-hand with striking illustration. Weaving through the story is the repetition of a theme with the line “Vincent can’t sleep…”, inviting readers to view artistic creation not as just another job, but passion that infuses the artist’s body and mind. Mary Grandpré’s beautiful style of illustration, so familiar from the Harry Potter books, incorporate elements from Van Gogh’s own paintings, subtly making the point to readers that art is drawn from real life, and real-life perspective is colored by artistic representations. These are complex ideas, but presented simply so that readers of all ages can explore them through the visuals and poetic language. Most important of all, the book carries a strong message about acceptance and success, suggesting that it the one is not always an accurate indicator of the other. The creators of this picture-book have done a wonderful job of drawing out thought-provoking and inspiring themes from an already beautiful narrative.
About the Author
BARB ROSENSTOCK is the author of the Caldecott Honor Book The Noisy Paint Box, also illustrated by Mary GrandPré, as well as The Camping Trip that Changed America, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein, and Fearless: The Story of Racing Legend Louise Smith, illustrated by Scott Dawson. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband, sons, and two big poodles. Visit her at BarbRosenstock.com or @barbrosenstock.
About the Illustrator
MARY GRANDPRÉ is best known as the illustrator of the Harry Potter books. She also illustrated the Caldecott Honor Book The Noisy Paint Box, as well as The Carnival of the Animals, written by Jack Prelutsky, and Chin Yu Min and the Ginger Cat by Jennifer Armstrong, amongst many others. Visit her at marygrandpre.com.
Vincent Can’t Sleep: Van Gogh Paints the Night Sky, written by Barb Rosenstock and illustrated by Mary GrandPré, was reviewed by Dr. Jen Harrison. Discover more books like Star Wars Block: Over 100 Words Every Fan Should Know by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with Acceptance, Art, Barb Rosenstock, Biographies, Mary GrandPré, and Vincent Van Gogh.