HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8Vincent Can’t Sleep: Van Gogh Paints the Night Sky | Book Review

Vincent Can’t Sleep: Van Gogh Paints the Night Sky | Book Review

The Children’s Book Review | May 11, 2018

Vincent Cant Sleep- Van Gogh Paints the Night SkyVincent Can’t Sleep: Van Gogh Paints the Night Sky

Written by Barb Rosenstock

Illustrated by Mary Grandpré

Age Range: 4-8

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books (2017)

ISBN: 978-1-101-93712-9

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.

Available Here: 

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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 , and .

Jen Harrison currently teaches English Composition and Composition Skills at East Stroudsburg University. She completed her PhD in Children's and Victorian Literature at Aberystwyth University in Wales, in the UK. There she also acted as an instructor teaching undergraduate courses on literature and literary theory, as well as further education courses on Children's Literature and Creative Writing. After a brief spell in administration, Jen then trained as a secondary school English teacher, and worked for several years teaching Secondary School English, working independently as a private tutor of English, and working in nursery and primary schools as a substitute teacher. After moving from the UK to the USA in 2016, Jen is very happy to have returned to higher education. Her current research focuses on three primary areas in the field of children’s literature: reader-writer relationships, thing-theory, and the supernatural; she is a reviewer for the International Research Society for the Study of Children’s Literature (IRSCL), as well as the Children's Book Review. Jen also writes an academic blog on Children's Literature, Worrisome Words: http://quantum.esu.edu/faculty/jharrison/. You can also find her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennifer.harrison.73594

Comments
  • I’m currently in the middle of the second of the Binti books from Nnedi Okorafor. They are short, but astonishingly dense – ideas just keep on flying at you, reminding you of just how ‘alien’, yet utterly relatable, the universe she has created is. It’s as though you are reading as a contemporary of the protagonist – the universal (to her) is unexplained, but things that are specific to her culture, or cultures that she is unfamiliar with, are explained by her. It’s utterly glorious.

    May 11, 2018

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