Thursday, February 13, 2020

Review: Cezanne's Parrot by Amy Guglielmo and Brett Helquist (Illustrator)

Cezanne's Parrot
by Amy Guglielmo, Illustrated by Brett Helquist
Release Date: February 11th 2020
2020 Putnam/G.P. Putnam's Sons
Kindle Edition; 40 Pages
ISBN: 978-0525515081
Genre: Juvenile Nonfiction / Children
Source: Review copy from publisher

All Cezanne wants is to be a great painter like his friends Monet, Pissarro, and Renoir. But when he shows his works, the professors, the critics, and the collectors all dismiss him: "Too flat!" "Too much paint!" "These are rough and unfinished!" Even his own pet parrot, Bisou, can't be brought to say, "Cezanne is a great painter!" And who can blame them? Cezanne doesn't care about tradition, and he doesn't follow the rules. He's painting in a way no one else has done before, creating something completely new--and he's destined to change the world of art forever. Cezanne's Parrot is a spirited celebration of creativity, determination, and perseverance--and the artist who would become known as the father of modern art.

My Thoughts
Cezanne's Parrot is a fun and simple story featuring the famous French artist, Paul Cezanne, at the start of his career as he was trying to find his niche in the difficult and critical art world.  Known as the father of modern art, his early years were rather challenging as he was trying to find his place and figure out his strengths as an artist.  

Personally, I really enjoyed the message this book was trying to present. As a struggling artist, Cezanne had many setbacks, but he persevered and eventually discovered his strengths as a painter. Using his pet parrot, Bison, to illustrate his challenges was a fun way to highlight his journey as the author used the parrot to indicate when Cezanne painted something really great, or not. I can imagine a child breathlessly turning the pages, waiting for that magical statement when Bisou finally says, "Cezanne is a great painter!"  Even myself, knowing this painter's background, found myself waiting for that statement.

I loved the illustrations in his book and recognized quite a few of them. "Fruit and Jug on a Table" is definitely one that I recognized and loved the idea of the paintings being included in the book. Plus, Cezanne interacted with several famous painters as well such as Gauguin, Monet (one of my personal favourites), Pissarro (who was a great friend to Cezanne), and Renoir. As an educator, I couldn't help but think about the lesson plans I could create around this book and the discussions to be had on each page.  It is too bad though, that Cezanne's son wasn't featured in this book as well. That could have been interesting.

Cezanne's Parrot is full of bright, colourful illustrations that feature a variety of artists and paintings. Chronicling Cezanne's journey from frustrated artist to successful artist, it teaches that one should never give up one's principles in order to be successful. It is definitely a fun introduction to the world of art and to Cezanne.  Highly recommended.