Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Hana in the Time of the Tulips

Noyes, Deborah. 2004. HANA IN THE TIME OF THE TULIPS. Ill. by Bagram Ibatoulline. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN 0763618756 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-5]

HANA IN THE TIME OF THE TULIPS is the story of a little Dutch girl whose father is caught up in the tulip craze of 1634-7 and her attempts to help console and comfort him. Ibatoulline’s incredible illustrations in the style of Rembrandt, with amazing control and use of color and light, and full color paintings on every facing page (with additional “sketches”) truly paint the picture of the times. Even the background of the text is faux parchment colored. One particularly stunning example shows Hana and her nursemaid looking at a firefly cupped in the nurse’s hands; the only light source is the glow from the trapped insect, which throws perfectly Rembrandt-like highlights onto the faces of Hana and Nurse.

This is a great introduction to the culture, the time, and the art of Rembrandt. The SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL review of October 1, 2004, expands on the stunning illustrations: “The illustrations are a haunting homage to Rembrandt, who has a peripheral role in the story and whose art typifies the day. Ibatoulline’s paintings demonstrate the flexibility of his acrylic-gouache work, which so perfectly mimics Rembrandt’s oils, inks, and bistre washes, and which deftly incorporate the chiaroscuro that was central to the master’s work.”


Research the Tulip Craze, and watch the video of CONFESSIONS OF AN UGLY STEPSISTER (the book by Gregory Maguire will be too advanced except for extremely gifted readers), which takes place during this time and also features a great painter. Discuss the different presentations of the historical facts of the time.

Rembrandt is noted for his use of light in painting, and Ibatoulline’s illustrations are carefully composed to mimic this technique. Compare several of Rembrandt’s paintings with the Ibatoulline illustrations, looking especially at night scenes and those where the light source is out of the picture frame but reflecting onto the faces included.

Another historical fiction book for this age group:
Paterson, Katherine. BLUEBERRIES FOR THE QUEEN. ISBN 0066239427

By Julie Brinker

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