Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Artist and Me

Peacock, Shane (Author)
Casson, Sophie (Illustrator)
Owlkids 2016. 40 pages
First published: 2016
ISBN: 9781771471381 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, point of view, setting, structures and features

Awards

The Forest of Reading – The Blue Spruce Award Nominee – 2017
Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award – Finalist – 2017

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Told in the confessional voice of an older man looking back on his life as a young boy, the story recalls the terrible way he treated an eccentric, outcast artist. The artist was Vincent van Gogh, tormented by child bullies in the town of Arles in the South of France during a period of reclusiveness and fragility.

Written in a nostalgic tone, with the pain of regret throughout, the narrator tries to come to grips with how he saw Van Gogh and how he was fearful of otherness: “He was a crazy man. He had wild red hair and a short red beard and a dream. His dream, he told anyone who would listen, was to tell the truth by painting pictures. That made me laugh, and I did it loudly. I made sure others heard me. Everyone I knew made fun of him.”

Gorgeous lush illustrations capture the feeling of Van Gogh’s work and universe. Hand drawn with digital colouring and a pastel overlay, saturated in rich yellows, greens and blues, the images sensitively reflect both the settings for some of his most famous paintings and the intensity of the little boy’s feelings. One page is filled with the boy’s face, looking on in horror and wonder at the artist in a field of sunflowers; another shows only the boy’s shoes and a hare’s hind legs, fleeing across the page.

A powerful work about bullying, and how genius and difference are often misunderstood. Back matter includes information on the artist and an author’s note.

  •  

    Look at images of paintings by Van Gogh. Share any prior knowledge you have about him. Look for these paintings in the story.

  •  As you read, reflect on the behaviour of the bullies and the bystanders. Why do you think they tormented Van Gogh? Why didn’t the narrator change his behaviour even though he liked the art?
  •  

    Use a graphic organizer to compare and contrast how Van Gogh was viewed during his lifetime and how he is seen now. Would he be treated differently if he were a boy in your class or town today?

  •  

    Create a piece of art inspired by Van Gogh and combine it with an anti-bullying message of your choice. Display your creations.

  •  

    Go for a picture walk. What do you think this story is about? Discuss the colours, lines and style. Do you recognize the people or art? What do you know about it?

  •  

    After the read-aloud, use a graphic organizer to compare and contrast the narrator as a boy and as an older person.

  •  

    Discuss the children’s and grown-ups’ attitudes toward Van Gogh. What other creators were ridiculed for their work? Why do people ridicule others? Could this bullying story happen today? Write a journal entry about it.

  •  

    Read the information on Van Gogh and the author’s note at the end. Use teacher-selected resources to find out more about the artist’s art and life, and present your findings in photo-album style.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To cooperate with others
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Media Literacy
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Visual Arts