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Vincent Can't Sleep: Van Gogh Paints the Night Sky

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  432 ratings  ·  104 reviews
Vincent can't sleep . . .
out, out, out he runs!
flying through the garden--marigold, geranium, blackberry, raspberry--
past the church with its tall steeple, down rolling hills and sandy paths meant for sheep,
He dives at last into the velvety, violet heath, snuggles under a blanket of sapphire sky,
and looks up, up, up . . . to visit with the stars.
Vincent van Gogh
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  432 ratings  ·  104 reviews

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Aliza Werner
Besides the textured illustrations in the style of Van Gogh, I love how this book focuses on his strengths and the talented side of his genius, the asset-based perspective of mental illness.
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lyrical, beautiful biography of VanGogh that has artistry in the narrative structure, the telling, and the art.
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
First sentence: Vincent can't while the sturdy Dutch village of Zundert slumbers, he lies rocking in his wooden cradle, flame-haired, a constellation of freckles sprinkling his cheeks.

Premise/plot: Vincent Can't Sleep is a picture book biography of artist Vincent Van Gogh. It is not a straightforward biography but brief narrative sketches that give readers insight into his life and work. Many--if not all--of the sketches begin with the phrase, "Vincent can't sleep...."

My thoughts: I
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
The duo that created The Noisy Paint Box, which won a Caldecott Honor, return with this look at the childhood and work of Van Gogh. The book focuses on the insomnia that plagued Van Gogh his entire life, even in his childhood when he would head outside in the middle of the night and go out into the heath to watch the stars. He spends much of his time at board school alone and working on his art. As a young man, he has problems working in his uncle’s gallery because of his moods. The book shows ...more
Lynn  Davidson
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Vincent Van Gogh, although famous now, was a mostly overlooked talent in his time. His mental and physical health problems didn't keep him from his passion of painting, so that today his works of art are among the most highly regarded. This book is beautifully told and illustrated about a man who couldn't sleep at night so that time was devoted to wandering and painting.
Lauren Hall
This book would be such a great option if you are studying art history with your students! Read alone, it would be great for third grade and up because of the word amount for each page. The story and picture detail is great if you wanted to use this as a whole class read aloud book as well. This can be Read to a student of any age! I loved it!
Feb 26, 2018 added it
This book is beautifully written and illustrated. There's something poetic about the story, and there are some things that are heartbreaking, especially the last page of the story. This is a great, inspiring read.
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Unspeakably gorgeous. An honest, yet age-appropriate look at a troubled artist with a beautiful vision. The illustrations are magical.
Sandy Brehl
This is a charming take on the childhood of a renowned artist whose adult life is less than kid-friendly. The illustrations manage to be reflective of his most famous painting, STARRY NIGHT, without appearing to simply copy his work. Kids, especially the youngest, would enjoy sharing this book and then viewing images of his work. seems like a useful tool for exploring the impressionists' approach to an interpretive view of nature.
The Reading Countess
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Gorgeous illustrations silently remind us why we need the beauty that artists are able to bring to our lives; coupled with the lyrical lines in this ode to a man misunderstood during his time, Vincent Can't Sleep would make a great tie-in to Vincent and Theo.
Edward Sullivan
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books, art
Elegant, richly textured illustrations and lyrical prose explore van Gogh’s influences and achievements.
F.T. Bradley
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm from the Netherlands, so I'm intimately familiar with Vincent van Gogh, his art, his story and struggles as an artist, and his life. I was a bit skeptical that it would all translate into a children's book, never mind a picture book...

But the author did a brilliant job, connecting his insomnia (recognizable when you're a kid), his story as a child and then a grown man, a struggling artist, and his brilliant talent. There are some darker elements in the book (if you're familiar with Van
Baby Bookworm
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: our-reviews

This review was originally written for The Baby Bookworm. Visit us for new picture books reviews daily!

Hello, friends! Our book today is Vincent Can’t Sleep: Van Gogh Paints The Night Sky, written by Barb Rosenstock and illustrated by Mary GrandPré, a look at the life and mind that inspired a masterpiece.

Even as a baby, Vincent Van Gogh didn’t need to be asleep to dream. As a child, he would sneak out of the house at night and lie out under the stars, finding peace in the vast twinkling sky. But
Stephanie Tournas
Vincent van Gogh suffered from insomnia through his too short life. Each page opening in this intimate picture book biography tells the reader that "Vincent can't sleep" and describes the night wanderings, ruminations and many moods of his life. Gorgeous painterly artwork depicts the different colors of the night and the various van Gogh renditions of the night sky. Grandpré's depictions of van Gogh seem to be taken directly from his various art works and are quite lovely. It feels almost as if ...more
Evocative prose that relies on the repetition of the phrase "Vincent can't sleep" to capture the essence of the painter takes readers back in time to the Netherlands and other parts of Europe when Vincent Van Gogh lived and painted. The detailed illustrations have been created with acrylic, pen, and watercolor, somehow making readers feel the restlessness of this brilliant but troubled man. An Author's Note provides additional detail about Vincent and his paintings and even includes three ...more
I just discovered that I read another biography by the author of this book, Barb Rosenstock, and she has talent for distilling an entire famous figure’s life and making it accessible and appropriate for children. In Vincent Can’t Sleep children receive the essential facts related to Vincent Van Gogh, including his time in the hospital which is done without morbid detail. Also Rosenstock uses the phrase, Vincent can’t sleep throughout the text when she is about to write of a new facet of Vincent’ ...more
Becky B
A lyrical picture book biography of artist Vincent Van Gogh.

Van Gogh's story is told through his insomnia and nighttime or late night activities as the years go by. This is a very gentle and safe bio of Van Gogh. It mentions he was in the hospital and another time it mentions he sometimes scared customers by his changing emotions, but it doesn't go into more details about his mental and emotional issues. Mostly it focuses on things that inspired his paintings and a broad overview of his life. In
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Vincent Can't Sleep tells of a young Van Gogh who cannot settle in sleep. So he put on his boots and goes outside to, eventually, fall asleep under the starts. This tome tells the tale of a troubled Van Gogh that cannot seem to settle into life as society would dictate. He finally finds his light in pointing. The book does narrate, but in a gentle, glossy, way the "madness" that afflicted Vincent.

It is a story that tells a tale of a triumph of finding oneself even through the dark with word
Beth Anderson
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous! Each sentence, carefully crafted, is packed with emotion and information, never a wasted word. The text provides a real sense of the artist and his restless spirit, and the rich, evocative art draws the reader in. As Rosenstock states in her dedication, it’s a story “for those who know darkness and still look for light.”
The author found just the right thread, the “so what?” that will create a unique slice of life. Instead of trying to overwhelm a young reader with Van Gogh’s entire
Lexie Elder
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Genre: Biography
Grade Level: 3rd-5th
I love Vincent Van Goghs artwork so this book was very intriguing to me. I love the way the illustrator draws each page in the same style that Vincent Van Gogh used to paint. It also has lots of rhythm and students will easily be able to read and follow along. It even addresses His mental illness subtly which is something I found important to the story. I think this book could inspire students who do not think like others do or are special in their own way to
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Vincent Can't Sleep is a beautiful, lyrical look at a brilliant and tragic artist. As others have mentioned, it is a gentle introduction to Van Gogh that discusses his mental and physical struggles in an age-appropriate way. The writing is poetic and the artwork pays tribute to Van Gogh's own style. I appreciate that it ends on a hopeful note, focusing on the beauty of his paintings.

The end pages include more biographical information, sources, and Van Gogh quotes, making it a solid text to
Read  Ribbet
Rosenstock and Grandpre team up again to tell this story about Van Gough after their Caldecott Honor book on Kandinsky. Beautifully illustrated in an homage to Van Gough's work, we learn insomnia often left Van Gough up at night which may ave helped him find inspiration from the colors of the night. End notes tell more of the story. Picture book biographies are such a great genre to use at many levels. Though Van Gough is more well known than other less known lives celebrated in picture book ...more
One of my favorite artists, Van Gogh, and one of his most well known works of art, The Starry Night are featured in this story of Van Gogh and his life from childhood through death. Most children's books I've read on him tend to steer away from Van Gogh's mental health. I loved how this one used it to enhance his story, sharing with the reader how his insomnia and other illnesses led to his amazing artwork. I love that the illustrations of Vincent Can't Sleep mimic the work of Van Gogh himself. ...more
Mary GrandPré’s artwork is lovely. I’ve been a fan since the first Harry Potter books came out.

The text is spare and poetic. It could be read to older children who might have a bit of background knowledge on Van Gogh, and thus would understand the significance of Vincent’s dream (and his presence) in a hospital. But it could be shared without that knowledge, too, simply for the story of a boy who derived comfort and inspiration from the night sky. I’ll add it to my collection of Van Gogh kids’
Babies to Bookworms
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This beautifully illustrated book follows Vincent van Gogh from childhood to adulthood. As a child he struggles to sleep, so he escapes outside to sleep underneath the starry skies. Finally when he completes his masterpiece he’s able to sleep. The illustrations take inspiration from Van Goghs “The Starry Night “ and they are full of texture and bright colors. The story is best suited for elementary age kids, although my two-year-old requests that I read it over and over again. This is a great ...more
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A simple look at the life of Vincent Van Gogh that use the title as a refrain to reflect the artist’s insomnia and later fascination with painting darkness. Mary Grandpre’s illustration suggest Van Gogh’s style and feature details of his more famous works. Young children studying his paintings will find this title more accessible than most true biographies. This is a lovely introduction to an important and complicated artist.
The text could be better, especially in the first third of the book. Repetitive and not all that interesting. But the text got going afterwards. And the art was always amazing, capturing the feel of Van Gogh as well as guessing at one of how the artist got to where he did. The prose history at the back was far from comprehensive but gave the historical details of the story that was told in the picture book section.
Lauren Krebs
This was a wonderful book that explained Vincent Van Gogh's childhood and upbringing and talked about his inspiration for his famous painting of The Starry Night. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in art and painting although it is geared toward younger audiences, ages 4-9. This probably wouldn't be a book that I would read aloud to the class, however I would encourage my students who love art to read this book during choice time.
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Exceptional piece. 4 1/2 stars.

This is a simplified biography of the artist, focusing on his insomnia and his struggles to find a place for himself in the world. It was light enough for young readers, but adults who know the rest of his story will find it a little heartbreaking. I used it as the read-aloud for my Preschool Playdate, since we were using Starry Night as our inspiration for today's paintings, and the kids did sit still through the whole thing. A beautiful, poignant biography.
Steve Garvin
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
I love children's books like this where I can learn a bit about a famous person. In this case, Vincent Van Gogh. We have Starry Night hanging in our room. I didn't realize how much this painting represents Van Gogh's experience with the night. (I've also had many a night with insomnia.) I've got a new perspective on the beauty of the night sky. The illustrations very appropriately mirrored Van Gogh's style with many reflections of some of his most beloved paintings.
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