Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Henri's Scissors

Henri's Scissors

Jeanette Winter
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Simon and Schuster, 2013   ISBN: 978-1442464841

Simon and Schuster, 2013, 978-1-4424-6484-1

In a small town in France there was a little boy called Henri whose mother painted pieces of China. Not surprisingly, Henri decided that he wanted to paint too, and so he did. He drew pictures on the sand, he drew pictures in his schoolbooks, and when he grew into young man, Henri also drew in his law books and on the documents that were associated with his law work.

   Then one winter Henri got sick, and while he was recovering in bed he painted using a box of paints that his mother gave him. When he got well Henri could not bear going back to studying the law. Instead, he packed a bag and went to Paris where he hoped to become an artist.

   For years Henri painted pictures that made him happy and that people liked. He had a good life until the day when he got sick. Henri was now an old man with a grey beard. He was so sick and frail that he could no longer paint. He would have to remain in bed or in a wheelchair and he did not know if he would ever be strong enough to paint again.

   Then Henri went to stay at the seaside. He hoped that the fresh sea air would help him heal. Slowly Henri got stronger. He sat up in bed and drew, and then one day he began to cut up colored pieces of paper with a pair of scissors. Henri realized that “A pair of scissors is a wonderful instrument,” and in his hands those scissors allowed Henri to create a different kind of art.

   With sensitivity and a keen appreciation for art and the artistic process, the author of this book tells the story of Henri Matisse, an artist who, as an old sick man, discovered a new art form that gave him great joy and that gave the world wonderful art to look at.