Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Mr. Gauguin's Heart

Mr. Gauguin's Heart

Marie-Danielle Croteau
Illustrator:  Isabelle Arsenault 
Picture Book
For ages 6 to 9
Tundra Books, 2007   ISBN: 978-0887768248

Young Paul Gauguin is traveling by ship to Peru with his mother, his father, his sister, and his imaginary orange dog. All goes well on the journey until the day when Paul's father suddenly dies of heart failure. Paul is too young to really understand when his mother says that his father was "carried away." How can a person be carried away by their heart?

Then Paul sees the glowing sun on the horizon and he believes that the sun is his father's heart and that his father is holding onto the sun the way a child might hold onto a balloon. This idea is comforting to Paul who is sure that his father is not lost at all. Instead he is "sailing through the sky" carried "on the wind by his big heart."

The days that follow are hard on the little family. Paul's mother and his sister weep a great deal while Paul waits for the sun so that he can be close to his father.

When their ship arrives in Peru Paul does not want to leave the ship. But then an old man finds a special way to comfort the little boy. He shows Paul that there is a way to save a special place or a special moment so that it can be kept for all time.

In this unique picture book children will get to 'meet' the young Paul Gauguin, who would one day grow up to be a famous and much admired painter. Based on a true story from Paul's childhood, this story will show readers how this special child found a way to console himself after a great loss. Children will see that there are ways to deal with grief. All you have to do is to be creative and to have faith in hope and happiness.