Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse

Hooper, Hadley (Illustrator)
Macmillan 2014. 40 pages
First published: 2014
ISBN: 9781596439481 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Dewey: 759.4
Book type: Non-Fiction
Book genre: Biography

Text Elements:

character, setting

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:

Written as three long, hypothetical questions drawn out over its pages, the book asks: “If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who . . . ?”, “Would it be a surprise that you grew up . . . ?” and “Would it be a surprise that you became a fine painter who . . . ?”

The book opens to a drab, grey scene from “a dreary town in northern France where the skies were gray.” But from there, it reveals the simple beauty and vivid colour around the young Matisse—his mother painting plates with pictures of rivers and birds, and hanging red rugs on the walls, the beautiful silks woven in the nearby town.

A tender relationship with his mother underscores Matisse’s artistic awakening as she allows him to mix her paints and arrange market flowers. Small, simple creative acts, added to all he sees, are transformative, and a final image shows the adult artist drawing.

The illustrations present the same brilliant colours, fluid shapes and patterns for which Matisse is known—intense shades of green and blue, bold oranges and reds, warm ochre and tangerine. And they show the potential source for his inspiration in the everyday objects and people in his life.

The book concludes with author and illustrator’s notes and suggested readings.

  •  

    Discuss how artists get inspired. Start a list. Add to it as you read.

  •  What aspects of your childhood do you imagine will influence you as an adult? Write about a passion you have now that you think will be a part of your adult life, like art was to Henri Matisse.
  •  

    Read the illustrator’s description of the process she used to create the illustrations. With teacher guidance, explore some of the original artwork and the online resources she references. Look for connections with the illustrations.

  •  

    Learn more about the style of Matisse’s work. Create a piece of art in the same style. Include a paragraph about your inspiration, design choices and intentions.

  •  

    From the cover, try to deduce the meaning of the word iridescence.

  •  

    Start a list of art-related words, from the book and from your own knowledge. How could these words be organized? Create a mind map with a partner.

  •  

    Discuss how artists get their inspiration. Start a list. Add to it as you read.

  •  

    With a partner, discuss the aspects of your childhood you imagine will influence you as an adult. List any current passions that you think could be part of your adult life, like art was to Henri Matisse.

  •  

    From teacher-selected sources, look at some of Matisse’s art pieces and compare them with the pictures in the book.

  • To communicate appropriately
  • To construct his/her identity
  • To use creativity
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Visual Arts