Posted on 09/20/2017 at 12:00 AM by Blog Experts

Art History doesn’t have to be overwhelming or irrelevant  for students. A simple picture book can make difficult concepts come alive. This is the case with The fantastic jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel.

This particular brief biography of Rousseau is told in the present tense. It begins when he is an adult and is working as a toll collector and how his love for nature compels him to begin painting. Markel’s words and Amanda Hall’s illustrations work together to bring Rousseau to life: “Because when he strolls through the parks of Paris, it’s like the flowers open their hearts, the trees spread their arms, and the sun is a blushing ruby, all for him” (Markel, 2012, unpaged). Some of the spreads in the illustrations have historical figures who were known by Rousseau embedded into them. Students can study the illustrations and search them out. Markel ends the book with, “A hundred years later, the flowers still blossom, the monkeys still frolic, and the snakes keep slithering through Henri’s hot jungles” (unpaged).

Even though it is a picture book, it would be appropriate for students in elementary through high school. This particular book, as well as others listed below, can be obtained from Northwest AEA Media Center.

The country mouse and the city mouse (2013) is a DVD with artwork done in the style of Henri Rousseau. The DVD is 10 minutes in length.

Arts & Activities Magazine from May 2013 (v. 153 n. 4) and June 2017 (v. 161 n. 5) both have articles about Henri Rousseau. If you go to Iowa AEA Online and search through Britannica School for Henri Rousseau, you will also find a variety of articles about this artist.

If you are searching for other artists, Northwest AEA has many biographies with a 2016 copyright or newer for all age groups. Learn 360 has many videos, printables, and images that deal with artists and art history. Even the latest Caldecott winner was about an artist: Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Steptoe is available from Northwest AEA Media Center.

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