At the age of forty, toll collector Henri Rousseau wanted to be an artist, so he gathered his materials and started to paint. Inspired by his love of nature, Rousseau studied the great art masters on his own because he couldn’t afford lessons. Yet, at his first showing critics hated his work and continued to do so for years. He persevered in the face of great criticism and as his own style developed, he began to receive respect for his work. One hundred years later, his art hangs in museums around the world.
Rousseau’s willingness to continue despite the criticism shows the results of overcoming great odds to follow dreams and not quitting in the face of negative comments. Rousseau’s efforts and his unwillingness to give up as shown in the book becomes an inspiration to young people with their own challenges.
Hall’s art reflects the flat, primitive style Rousseau developed and the bold colors mimic those that inspired him from nature. The art spreads across the pages in a lush and vibrant boldness. This nonfiction book reads like a story while showing children how to stand firm against their own naysayers
CONNECTIONSReview the ways Rousseau dealt with his critics. Talk about how other people deal with adversity both in positive and negative ways and then relate these solutions to the field of art. Explore other artists and compare their difficulties with Rousseau’s.
RELATED BOOKSOther books for children about artists overcoming adversity:
Krull, Kathleen. LIVES OF THE ARTISTS: MASTERPIECES, MESSES (AND WHAT THE NEIGHBORS THOUGHT). ISBN 0547519915
Wenzel, Angela. 13 ARTISTS CHILDREN SHOULD KNOW. ISBN 9783791341736