Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Matisse: The King of Color

Matisse: The King of Color

Laurence Anholt
Historical Fiction Picture Book  Series
For ages 6 and up
Barron’s Educational Series, 2007   ISBN: 978-0764160479

Monique is a young nurse who has come to the house of Mr. Matisse to look after him. When she arrives at his home it is like "stepping into a multicolored jungle" for there are birds flying around the rooms, and plants as tall as trees growing everywhere. There are also brightly colored paintings covering the walls.

Mr. Matisse is resting in bed recovering from an operation. He asks Monique to read to him which she does until she falls asleep. While she naps the famous artists makes a drawing of her and when she wakes up he tells her about the adventures he has had in countries around the world.

Bit by bit Mr. Matisse gets better and with Monique's help he begins to paint again. She models for him and all his pictures of the young woman are "full of joy." Then it is time for Monique to leave and she goes to special school for nuns. As a novice nun she continues to be a nurse, and as she is serving her community she sees that an old abandoned house near the school has been bought. She is delighted when she discovers that the new owner is none other than her dear friend Mr. Mattise.

When Mr. Matisse hear that Monique's school is so poor that it does not even have a chapel he decides to build one in honor of his young friend ? a chapel which will be "a house of color."

This picture book is based on the true story of a remarkable friendship that existed between Henri Matisse and Monique Bourgeois. In 1941 Matisse got cancer and was severely handicapped for the rest of his life. This did not however, stop him from being incredibly creative. With the help of Monique and others, he recovered enough to get back to painting and Monique grew to become a very dear friend.

Wonderful paintings flooded with color and painted in the style of Matisse perfectly compliment this heart-warming story about a special friendship. Further information about Matisse, his work, and his life is provided in the back of the book and a photograph near the end of the story shows readers what the Matisse Chapel looks like on the inside.