Starred Kirkus review of The Iridescence of Birds / by hadley hooper



"Glorious" :)

If indeed the “child is father to the man,” Newbery medalist MacLachlan’s poetic, careful and concentrated text captures the essence of Matisse’s childhood experiences and draws powerful parallels with his later life and work.

In her second picture book, Hooper (Here Come the Girl Scouts, by Shana Corey, 2012) employs a relief-print process with digital enhancement, art that is a perfect match for the simple story’s vivid imagery. Effective page turns and the accretion of detail in both text and illustration take readers on a journey from perennially overcast northern France to the patterned interiors and lush exoticism of Matisse’s Provence while demonstrating the artistic beginnings of his fauvist palette. It modulates from spread to spread, from the “dreary town in northern France” where the skies and streets are gray, through the exciting, paint-filled pots of color in Matisse’s mother’s china-painting studio and the oranges and golds of fruit and flowers from the markets to the many shades of reds in the rugs his mother put on the walls and floors of their house. The title springs from Matisse’s love of pigeons. He was fascinated by their “sharp eyes” and “red feet.” And he particularly loved watching their colors change as they moved—the titular “iridescence.” Raising pigeons, it seems, was the perfect pastime for this quiet, color-loving boy who would become a brilliant painter.

Glorious. (biographical note, artist’s note, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)