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Colorful Dreamer: The Story of Artist Henri Matisse
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Colorful Dreamer: The Story of Artist Henri Matisse

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  170 ratings  ·  39 reviews
An inspiring portrait of one of the world's most loved artists

There was once a boy named Henri, whose dreams were full of color even though his hometown was dreary and gray. His parents expected him to learn a trade when he grew up, but being a law clerk bored him, and he continued to dream of a colorful, exciting life, and of being noticed. Then Henri started painting . .
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published November 8th 2012 by Dial Books
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Jun 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art, childrens-ya
The author captures Matisse's interesting life, while the illustrator weaves his glorious colors, styles, and themes in with her own masterful pencil drawings. Really nice.
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Matisse grew up in a French town that was industrial and gray. Despite this, he dreamed in bright colors. He was a boy who did not do well in school, at music, or really at much of anything except dreaming. Matisse decided to study law in Paris, but he discovered that being a law clerk was very dull, copying legal documents word for word by hand. Due to the stress, Matisse ended up in a hospital bed for months. It was there that he started painting to pass the time. Now he had found exactly what ...more
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Oh my, how could I have missed this book? I have been waiting for it to come in at the library, and I finally got my hands on a copy, and I LOVE IT. If I had read this before the Caldecott was awarded, I would have been pushing for it for a long time. I am retro-actively voting for it, even though the award and honors are already announced. The colors in this book are fabulous, and it is incredibly well done. My only complaint is that the main character looks too much like Harry Potter on the co ...more
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
Tells the story of Matisse finding his way to painting and then becoming a successful artist. The book emphasizes that he worked really hard at art; people around him had thought he wasn't a hard worker and that he would struggle to find success in anything. The text and illustrations really reinforce the freedom he found in art.

I loved how the illustrations changed through the story to parallel Matisse's life. There are pencil sketches when he's at home, doing law work, and in the hospital, but
A simple story of the life of French artist Henri Matisse. Children will learn that he grew up in an industrial town, his parents owned a store and that his parents worried that Henri wouldn't do anything useful with his life.

Henri tried law school but quickly became bored as a law clerk. He became so bored that he made himself ill and landed in the hospital. In the hospital he learned to paint. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Not recommended for storytime.
Jo Oehrlein
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
A good book about how Henri Matisse became an artist and how he discovered focus and drive once he found painting.

I like that the book uses pencil sketches for his life with his parents/school/law/life-without-painting and then very Matisse colors once he starts painting.

Good for people who take a while to figure out what excites them.

Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Colorful Dreamer is the story of Henri Matisse, who has been one of my favorite artists since I was a little girl. Matisse didn't stumble upon his love of creating art until he was a young man. He first started out as a law clerk and the job stressed him out so much that he ended up in the hospital. It was while he was in the hospital that he discovered his true passion, which of course disappointed his family. No one wanted him to become an artist, but Matisse followed his heart and began to cr ...more
Jun 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
I liked this story about Henri as he was growing up. He lived in a place with no color and everyone worked hard to just make a living. He was a daydreamer and his parents worried about him because he was not good at anything. He goes off to law school and has a hard time confined to his job and so he gets sick. While in the hospital, he starting drawing and using color. He thought he had finally found his dreams. The best part of this is the fact that they bring up how he did do something good, ...more
Christine Turner
An inspiring portrait of one of the world's most loved artists There was once a boy named Henri, whose dreams were full of color even though his hometown was dreary and gray. His parents expected him to learn a trade when he grew up, but being a law clerk bored him, and he continued to dream of a colorful, exciting life, and of being noticed. Then Henri started painting . . . and kept painting and dreaming and working at his craft until he'd become one of the most admired and famous artists in t ...more
Sep 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book, along with The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse form all that I know of the life of Henri Matisse. Each paints his life slightly differently, but in each instance I am fascinated with this painter. He was truly an incredible person. This book, more so than the other one that I've mentioned, carried you through all the stages of his life and it is certainly a more detailed portrayal. I enjoyed both books, but this one might be the one I'd recommend to a student doing a ...more
Meghan Schroeder
Nov 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: educ-542-ewu
I really liked this biography a lot. I've done work in my undergrad art methods class with Henri Matisse where we presented lessons on artists, and then did an art project tied to the artist. This would have been a wonderful book to have to do a lesson like that. Also while searching the shelves I saw all kinds of biographies that were picture books that would be wonderful to share with younger students. I just think it's wonderful that books like this one exist that allow for younger students t ...more
Eva Kelly
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
So this one was about this ARTIST named Henri, and Mama already knew who he was, so for her it was already a good one, so when she read to me THAT made it a good one for ME.
She has lots of books of this guy and his paintings, which are bright and some of them are random, but they weren't sloppy like a baby book. So this guy knew what he was doing.
And you know what the good part of this one is? That when they show his life, it's all black and white, but his dreams and his ART is in COLOR. That's
Jun 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Henri Matisse was not happy with the dull and dreary life he was leading. In fact, the life of a law clerk left him ill and in the hospital. To pass the time he took up painting - inspired by a patient in a neighboring bed. The colors revived and healed him. He began painting every moment he could. Eventually people noticed. He made works of art until the day he died. The illustrations do a great job showing the contrast of before and after he discovers art. This is a brief yet informative pictu ...more
Jan 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art, children-picture
This is a great book on the artist Henri Matisse. The text was interesting and included enough about his childhood to allow children to connect with him. The illustrations by Holly Berry communicate his bright colorful style. Her use of black and white illustrations with colorful additions really provide emotional context and communicate the joyful nature of his work. Like many other children's picture books on artists, I would have preferred that at least some of his actual work was included in ...more
Jul 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Although this is a very simple biography, the writing uses some really beautiful language. The illustrations reflect the text on each page - when there was no color in Matisse's life, the artist draws in black and white, when Matisse was being imaginative she used color, and as he eventually became a painter, investigating different styles, she used those styles to decorate the relevant pages. Another great model for biography writing, and a very nice introduction to a fabulous artist.
Leslie Bulion
This is a fascinating window into the life of Henri Matisse, told in lovely and accessible language for young readers. The illustrations are breathtaking, transitioning from a black and white style of the illustrator's own into and explosion of the brilliant colors and shapes of Matisse as he discovers what it is he's meant to do with his life! This book is as inviting and joyous as it is informative.
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was a wonderful little addition to our Henri Matisse unit for art. As with other past artists that I didn't first enjoy their work, I have grown to have an appreciation for Matisse's contribution to the art community and his endless passion to discover new ways to create even when physically limited with some mediums. He was truly an example of never giving up and always following your dreams.
Sep 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Henri’s world is drab and colorless. It’s all work and no day-dreaming. His parents worry that he will never amount to anything. But Henri’s spirit is too colorful to ignore! Black and white illustrations alternate with color until Henri becomes a master artist and his world is so bright that he has to wear shades!
May 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies
Now THIS is a biography that will catch a child's attention all the way through. I absolutely loved it. Older readers may want to find other books on Matisse after reading this one, which includes no photographs or reproductions of any of his works. However, the illustrations convey the "impression" of his style. You want to jump out of your chair and shout, "Go, Matisse!"
Jan 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The combined talents of author Marjorie Blain Parker and illustrator Holly Berry create a beautiful portrayal of the life of Henri Matisse making his contributions to the world of art accessible to the youngest of readers. This book will inspire.

My full review:
Great picture book biography with both colored and black and white illustrations that help tell the story of Henri Matisse's life in a visual way. Note about the artist is included at the end with information about further reading and where to find his works in various museums all over the world.
Jun 27, 2014 rated it liked it
bookaday #32. Nice, child friendly introduction the life of artist Henri Matisse. I like how the illustrator uses black and white to emphasize the dullness of Henri's life, changing to an explosion of color when he finds his joy and passion in art school.
Books like this give me hope. Love this bio of Henri Matisse, how life was a struggle for him as a child and as a young man. I'd compare it with "The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau" by Michelle Markel and
Amanda Hall.
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Matisse is one of my favorite artists and I loved the way Holly Berry really brought a feel for his art and style into the book. I also appreciated the message that it may take time to find out what you're passionate about, and time to discover exactly what it is that we want to work hard at.
Nov 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: art, picture, french
Informative but I wont read it again.
Karen Dransfield
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-book
Another lovely children's book about Henri Matisse and his life. It's full of art inspired by his work. Lots of ideas for me to think about for my term 3 art class.
Dec 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Some of want to create art and some of us *need* to create art. A great easy biography one of my favorite artists.
Dec 19, 2012 rated it liked it
I really like the illustrations.
Mar 17, 2013 rated it liked it
This very simple biography of Henry Matisse might be nice to share with dreamy children or those who struggle in school. It also obviously serves as an introduction to Matisse's artistic style.
Nov 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
I loved the contrast of the black and white illustrations before Matisse began to paint the the vibrant colors in the later part of the book. Very inspirational
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