Friday, October 24, 2014
The Iridescence of Birds, written by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Hadley Hooper. Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2014. $19.99 ages 5 and up
to brighten your days,
Painted plates to hang
on the walls
With pictures of
meadows and trees,
Rivers and birds,
And she let you mix
the colors of paint - "
What a beautiful title for an equally stunning book!
Patricia brings her incomparable gift with words to tell us the story of Henri Matisse, and his childhood dreams. She uses one long sentence that invites her audience to imagine what life might have been like had they been Henri in northern France in the mid-nineteenth century. While his outdoor surroundings were gray and dreary, his mother filled his home with bright colors and an artist's sensibility. Her willingness to let her young son explore the world of color, artistically arrange her market purchases, and care for the colorful pigeons that came to their windows encouraged Henri's inherent gift.
This book celebrates color in our world, finding inspiration in everyday things, and the love of a mother for her gifted son. There is never a doubt in my mind that when Patricia MacLachlan sets out to write a meaningful book, she will do it flawlessly each and every time. The artwork that Hadley Hooper creates using a combination of relief printmaking and digital techniques communicate all that his mother did to inspire Henri's future as an admired and successful artist.
Both author and illustrator add a note in back matter to further describe the artist's life, and to provide information concerning the research that resulted in its amazing images.
In a recent interview, Hadley Hooper talked about her work:
I looked at every painting of his I could find. What a great luxury! I tried to find fabrics that he may have seen in his hometown, which was a textile town. I looked at the era’s fashion, architecture, even thought about the music he might have listened to. I used Google Maps to knit together the street he grew up on, which really hadn’t changed much, architecturally. For most illustrations, I’ll cut and/or emboss foam and cardboard to make relief prints. I use different transfer techniques and old carbon paper to get interesting line qualities. I’ll scan all the parts in and assemble in Photoshop.