Friday, September 6, 2013

HENRI'S SCISSORS by Jeanette Winter

What a wonderful gift for a child of any age!  As Jeanette Winter notes her story was inspired by seeing Matisse’s large cut-outs at Washington’s National Gallery.  Prior to that she had seen only reproductions but then to actually see the wall-size images must have been an extraordinary experience for her and that is reflected in her book filled with page after page of the artist’s cut-out and a judicious use of his own words.

We meet Matisse as a young boy who enjoyed watching his mother paint china.  He wanted to paint, too, so before long he was drawing on every available surface from sand to his schoolbooks.  As a young man he contracted appendicitis and was confined to his bed.  His mother gifted him with a box of paints.  The rest, as is said, is history.  He had been studying law but when he recovered from his illness he went to Paris where he continued to paint.

While he produced many amazing canvases he eventually grew old as we all do, and he became ill.  Once again he was confined to his bed - he could no longer paint, he couldn’t even sit up.  When Matisse finally regained his strength he was well enough to travel so he went to the sea shore thinking that would make him feel better.  It was a tonic for him and before long he was sitting up and drawing.

Then one day he picked up a pair of scissors and cut out shapes from painted paper.  Soon the walls of his room were covered with these beautiful colored shapes.  At this time he said, “My pleasure in cutting things out grows even greater.  Why didn’t I think of it earlier?”

So the famous artist continued to work prodigiously, joyfully until the end of his days.  What lessons there are for young ones in his story!  Outlets for creativity may be found anywhere.  When one door is closed, find another and open it.  May all learn from his example.

Highly recommended.

- Gail Cooke

1 comment:

The Kettes said...

I am the "picture person" (parent volunteer reads a book and does a lesson on a famous artist) for my daughter's 1st grade class this month. The artist is Matisse. Thanks for the book recommendation I am definitely going to use it!!