Van Gogh has always been one of my favorite artists, more for the tortured soul that he was than for his art itself, although few can deny the beauty within his famous Starry Night. The way the dark colors swirl together, the bleak structure off the the left contrasted with the bright yellow moon- it’s just a beautiful piece of art. When I saw the book, Van Gogh and the Post-Impressionists for Kids by Carol Sabbeth, on NetGalley, I knew I had to request it. I’ve always wanted to instill a passion for art in my son. While I have zero talent when it comes to creating visual art, I do have a strong appreciation for it. Plus, I was extremely curious as to how they’d handle the more delicate aspects of Van Gogh’s life, particularly his suicide and absinthe use.
The majority of the book is about Van Gogh’s earlier years, and much of it focuses on his close relationship with his brother Theo. Throughout the biographical account of Van Gogh’s life, Sabbeth mentions other painters of the Impressionist movement, such as Gauguin and Cezanne, but they only appear briefly, taking up perhaps a page or two tops until around 80 pages in. The author barely touched on the absinthe issue, only mentioning it in passing. Van Gogh’s ear-ectomy incident is explained in a paragraph or two, and does go into a little detail about the blood spurting, but nothing too graphic.
After Van Gogh’s suicide (which was handled appropriately for children), the Sabbeth spends the rest of the book going into more detail about the Post-Impressionist artists that were inspired by Van Gogh and other Impressionists, include Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Signac, and Emile Bernard.
One nice thing about this book is that it contains a wide enough variety of information that it can be used for just about any age group. Teachers or homeschoolers could continue to use it for many years, doling out only the appropriate amount of information. The book includes 21 different activities to enhance the material, from projects as easy as making a flower-shaped bird feeder out of a bagel to as complicated (for someone like me anyway) as creating a Dreamscape by imagining a scene from your favorite book and drawing yourself into it. It also includes numerous full-color images of various works by the featured artists.
Note- I received a free digital copy of this review from Net Galley, however my opinions are always completely honest.