Vincent Van Gogh and the Colors of the Wind
by Chiara Lossani, illus. by Octavia Monaco
New Arrivals Island, 2nd Floor
I learned a lot from reading this delightful, colorful tribute to the painter. Despite my initial doubt at the perhaps inadvertent nod to the theme song of the mid-90s Disney movie Pocahontas, the wind theme works well by the end. The wind reappears in many of the illustrations as a cheery snail shell-shaped cloud, speaks to encourage Vincent in his artistic growth, gives voice to Vincent’s hopes and dreams for his art, yet also gives voice to the darker sides of his mental illness and his difficulty relating to many of the artists and friends around him. The book deals gently and in an age-appropriate way with the many less appealing aspects of his life, such as his alcoholism, temper, lack of commercial success during his lifetime, and his eventual suicide, all of which have contributed to his posthumous reputation as a “tortured artist.”
Indeed, the book is as much a tribute to his brother Theo, who was perhaps his most stalwart supporter and friend. He tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to sell his brother’s paintings in Paris and many times sent him money, painting supplies, and even encouraged Vincent to come to Paris and move in with him. It makes me want to read the longer nonfiction YA biography of the two brothers, Vincent and Theo.
The book provides reproductions of at least a dozen of his paintings, and the glimpse made me want to look up more about his artistic development and his life. Highly recommended.