The Iridescence of Birds – Henri Matisse

By Patricia MacLachlan, published 2014

“If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived in a dreary town in northern France where the skies were gray, and you wanted color and light and sun, what might you become?”

Children's Book Iridescence of BirdsWhile I can’t remember what led me to buy this particular illustrated children’s book, I’m so glad I did. The author is well-known to me for her tender books in the Sarah, Plain and Tall series, and many others. However this is the first illustrated children’s book I’ve ever seen by her. I’m delighted to note that the language is as beautiful and heartfelt as her other books, and the illustrations are splendid. Imagine the conversation you can have just about the word “Iridescence.”

This very simple children’s book is definitely a read-aloud. I am gifting it to a four-year-old, and I think it’s a perfect way to bring art to very young children. The images and wonder of Matisse’s imagination come to beautiful life. The hard book edition of this book is also a treasure.

There are so many art projects this children’s book might inspire. I could imagine an activity following the reading of the book in a kindergarten or home, where scissors and lots of colored paper were brought out, and the imitation of Matisse’s joyful cut-outs took shape. Overall, a nice addition to ‘non-fiction’ storybooks.

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