The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau

by Michelle Markel

Hardcover, 2012



Local notes

921 ROU




Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (2012), 34 pages. $18.95.


A child's biography of French artist Henri Rousseau, who spent his life as a toll collector, but created unheralded masterpieces in his spare time.

Original language


Physical description

34 p.; 10 inches

Media reviews

Library Media Connection
This charming book starts off with Rousseau at age 40 deciding to become an artist. ... Markel beautifully describes many aspects of Rousseau's later life and work; yet his early life is missing. Hall's illustrations are incredible and blend well with the story and Rousseau's own work. An
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illustrator's note reflects how they were painted along with two-page spreads of famous people Rousseau associated with. It would have been helpful to have a key of these people. This title could be used as a biography, but it really is great for an art teacher to help reveal the difficulties and disappointments of an artist. ...
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6 more
... Markel’s gift here is that she is telling the story of someone overcoming the odds ... A combination of smart writing and smarter art is ideal, particularly when you’re dealing with picture book biographies. And The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau is nothing if not smart. It typifies
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the kind of bios I hope we see more of in the future. And, with any luck, it will help to create the kinds of people I’d like to see more of in the future. People like Henri Rousseau. Whatta fella. Whatta book.
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Horn Book Magazine
... Thee sometimes straightforward, sometimes flowery text... is consistently informative, conveying his groundbreaking flat perspective, his inspiration by the plants and animals of faraway lands, and his determined personality, as well as interesting details of his life, such as his eventual
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place in a circle of Modernist artists and writers. Appended are an author’s note and an illustrator’s note.... Though she takes many liberties in scale and perspective, Hall’s lush watercolor and acrylic art bears a clear resemblance to Rousseau’s.... This successful tribute makes Rousseau... accessible, and inspirational, to a young audience.
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[starred review] The career of artist Henri Rousseau gets a wonderfully child-friendly treatment in a book that captures both his personality and the essence of his pictures. ... children will be drawn to the story of someone whom no one believes in becoming a star anyway. Markel's text has a
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sweetness and simplicity that allows children to understand the story's underpinnings, giving them someone to root for. Initially, though, they'll be drawn by Hall's rich pictures... which are a credible homage to Rousseau's naive style. Kids will get a sense of the colors and vibrancy of the originals as well as their strength. ...
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School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3 -- Drawing on the naïve techniques found in the paintings of the 19th-century French toll collector, Hall depicts Rousseau's life while introducing his style and subject matter in her fanciful watercolor and acrylic scenes. Markel's well-chosen episodes begin with the purchase of his
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first paints and brushes -- at age 40. Compact sentences convey this self-taught artist's rocky journey, leaving room for Hall's interpretation. ... This is not only a visually exciting introduction to a well-known artist, but also an uplifting model of passion and perseverance. ...
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A charming, affecting picture-book life of France’s most celebrated naive painter.... Markel’s simple, poetic text... is matched with Hall’s vivid, venturesome illustrations. The bright watercolor-and-acrylic paintings have an impressive vitality and wonderfully channel Rosseau’s fantastic
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motifs and his characteristic use of flattened shapes and perspectives. This lovely, child-friendly biography evokes and celebrates this fabulous naif.
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[starred review] ... Markel’s account of Rousseau’s humility and amateur passion for art strikes just the right tone—it’s jaunty, confiding, and affectionate. Hall’s... acrylic and watercolor paintings celebrate Rousseau’s style without parodying it or dumbing it down. ... [Markel]
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describes Rousseau’s poverty, generosity, freedom of spirit, and—finally—the recognition he achieves. It’s a story about a painter who isn’t driven by an enormous ego or a Promethean will but the simple love of color and form in nature—a love that Hall excels at expressing.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member lnpowers
This is a beautiful book about overcoming hardships and doing what you love. As an art librarian, I knew the work of Henri Rousseau but the illustrations do his work such justice that I think it would be enjoyable without knowing his work. At the core of this story, there is a man who teaches
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himself to paint because he wants to and despite failure in the eyes of critics, he continues to do what he loves. I think the moral is strong and the illustrations are captivating.
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LibraryThing member brangwinn
PSC REVIEW: Children’s books are bringing so many interesting subjects to life. Who would think that Henri Rousseau, who was 40 years old before he started to paint, could be so interesting? Picture book biographical sketches like this one do much to help children understand artists. Rousseau
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kept on painting despite bad reviews by French critics. He used all his savings for paint supplies, living the life we picture of so many turn of the twentieth century French artists. He kept painting in his naïve way. Nature is his subject and observation is his teacher. He keeps on doing what he wants to do. Finally as an old man he receives the recognition his style deserves. Thanks to a younger artist named Picasso. It may take a wise adult to introduce kids to this book, but once pulled into the life of Rousseau, they’ll want to learn more about him. Amanda Hall’s rich lush artwork does well in following Rousseau’s style.
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LibraryThing member bogreader
Michelle Markel captures the spirits of imagination and inspiration in her picture book, The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau. Rousseau did not start painting until well into his adulthood. Despite his age, lack of formal training, and rejection by critics, Rousseau continued to paint jungles
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that he would never see within his own lifetime. Readers will celebrate a passion and enthusiasm for life in this book beautifully illustrated by Amanda Hall.
Look for Rousseau's contemporaries in the parties and learn more through the author's and illustrator's notes.
Review copy provided by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.
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LibraryThing member book58lover
A delightful book about an artist who would be little known to children. Markel manages to discuss his work as well as his life with its dreams and pittfalls in this short volume. The illustrations are delightful and in keeping with Rousseau's style, employing his technique and including his
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friends. I would like to see more for children about artists, particularly the less popular ones.
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LibraryThing member ibby.stith
This was a fantastic book that taught me things I never knew about Henri Rousseau. The language is easy for students to understand and the artwork is fantastic (as it should be as a book about an artist). I will be sharing this book with the art teacher at my school for sure!
LibraryThing member Katya0133
The first page of this book is so plaintive that I confess I skipped to the end to see if he things ever turned around for him! (I won't spoil the ending for you, though, dear reader.) This is a sweet picture book about the life of a very creative self-taught 20th century artist.
LibraryThing member book_in_hand
Before this book I didn't know anything about Henri Rousseau. Now that I've read it I'm curious to know more! It was a lovely book with gorgeous paintings, the illustrator did a wonderful job portraying his art and yet still making it her own. I loved how the author had real contemporaries of Mr.
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Rousseau's time, and little number guides to show you who was who. I would really like it if this was a new series of children's books about famous painters!
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LibraryThing member Sullywriter
A beautiful introduction to the artist and his bold, dreamy vision.
LibraryThing member sweetiegherkin
The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau picks up when Rousseau is a 41-year-old toll collector who decides to start dabbling in painting. He soon becomes increasingly consumed by this work, entering his art into exhibitions each year despite being repeatedly laughed at by critics. Eventually,
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younger artists - such as Pablo Picasso - come along and begin appreciating Rousseau's work, and he ultimately influences modern art in many ways.

By focusing on a small part of Rousseau's life (and further honing in on the theme of Rousseau's perseverance despite the cold critical reception and his poverty), the book remains fairly simplistic and digestible for small children. However, it is written in an appealing lyrical way that is easy to understand yet rather poetical. The illustrations are beautifully done and stylized to evoke Rousseau's legacy. There's often a surreal aspects to the illustrations, as the illustrator admits that she was willing to bend the rules in order to portray life the way Rousseau saw it. Hence we end up with pictures of Rousseau painting in his Paris apartment with the wild animals of his imagination roaming about the place.

This beautifully told tale of the painter Henri Rousseau's work and life is so delightful, I'd highly recommend it. The captivating prose and illustrations will appeal to both children and adults!
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LibraryThing member ronicadibartolo
I love Henri Rousseau's art!!!.. So colorful and different for his time. Always the starving artist when alive, but leaves behind very wealthy heirs. He was friends with Picasso!!! Score
LibraryThing member Melissalorio
This book tells the story of Henri Rousseau, a toll collector who decided to be an artist at the age of forty. The story of Rousseau's life is one of not being afraid to try something new, and listening to what makes one's own heart happy, instead of the naysayers.He painted for the rest of his
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life, regardless of what the critics said about him, or who laughed at him. He was beloved by later generations, however, and his work resides in museums all of the world. He died very poor, and did not see that success in his lifetime, but he still had the courage to do what he loved. It is a great message for children. Also, the illustrations in this book are wonderful. Amanda Hall attempted to emulate Rousseau's style, and it gives the book a whimsical feeling. It also helps to make the reader understand the fantastical world of the artist's imagination, the thing that was driving him to continue to create. Great book.
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LibraryThing member SuPendleton
Wonderful illustrations. Good information on Rousseau's life. The author of the book gives detailed information about his failures -- good life lessons. I would definitely use this book in my bibliography unit. (grades 2 - 5)
LibraryThing member kleahey
What a beautiful and inspiring text. The tender description of Rousseau's life and work leaves readers with a fondness and an appreciation for his passion and dedication. Wonderfully lessons can be taken from the description of his perseverance in the face of adversity and his relentless pursuit of
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his own happiness. The text is buoyed further by playful, rich illustrations reminiscent of the subject himself.
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LibraryThing member JessicaLeupold
A beautifully illustrated book, with the fantastic message about following your passion regardless of what others say. A great introduction to Art History. At the end the author even includes the names of the historical figures pictured throughout the book, which would serve as a great talking
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point for learning about other artists from the same time period. The Jungles of Henri Rousseau is the wonderful book for any child interested in Art.
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LibraryThing member memaldonado
Henri wanted to be an artist, but he had no training. One day he started painting jungles, animals, and lands that seemed to be distant from Paris. The jungles he painted had so much life, fauna, and animal diversity. Henri was able to put his art in museums, but critics did not like his paintings.
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When Henri discovered that critics did not like his paintings he felt bad, but he continued to paint. There was one person who liked his paintings and that was Picasso. Eventually younger artist started to like Henri's paintings. The book shows the humble beginnings of Henri, and how he taught himself to paint. The book also shows perseverance, dedication, and hope.
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LibraryThing member ashleyschifano
Henri Rousseau was a toll collector who really wanted to be an artist. He was consumed by his art but many critics only laughed at him. It talks about a short period of his life that keeps it simple for young readers.

The illustrations in this book are amazing. Some of the best I have seen thus far.
LibraryThing member kbartholomew1
Henri Rousseau did not know that he wanted to be an artist until he was forty years old. People did not believe in Henri or his talent and thought that his prime had passed. Henri does not listen to these people. Instead, he continues to do what he loves. He paints despite everything. The
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illustrator has placed many of Henri's paintings in the book, tying the real life man to the readers. This book is a great tool for teaching about dedication and hard work. It doesn't matter what people say about you or who tries to deter you, you should always try your best and do the things that make you happy.
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LibraryThing member krausch
I liked reading this book to the class. This book taught about an artist that no one believed in. No one liked his painting, until one day Picasso saw one of his paintings in an art gallery and he loved it! Ever since then, people really began to enjoy Henri's art.
LibraryThing member jwesley
Becoming an artist at forty, Henri Rousseau painted jungles and animals that critics often criticized. But despite the criticism, Rousseau continued to paint while gaining popularity from artists like Picasso. Overall, the book focuses on Rousseau's determination to do something that interests him
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despite hearing everyone's criticism. This book is definitely worth reading to inspire students to do something that interests them.
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LibraryThing member ccampeaux
This book is very good for children to read. Henri also was a painter who was very persistent and drew what he saw in his head. This shows children the power of their imagination. He, also, saw his paintings in a museum because he never gave up. Children draw what is in their head and they think it
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is the best thing, Henri makes this real.
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LibraryThing member amartino1208
The story of Henri Rousseau shows children that age is just a number, and dreams can be accomplished at any age. Henry strived to become a great painter despite what others were telling him. Children can learn about artist, along with a lesson on hard work and dedication. This book shows children
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that id they want to succeed at something bad enough, then they need some dedication to completing that activity. Loved the text and illustration in this book.
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LibraryThing member mcnicol_08
This is a great biography for young children as it is an easy read and provides excellent information about Rousseau. The book emphasizes the common theme in his paintings of jungles. I personally loved the illustrations of this book.
LibraryThing member kitbraddick
This book was about the artist, Henri Rousseau, but in turn it taught readers about dreams and their pursuit. Despite Henri's old age he still pursued art and followed his heart. By doing so he turned out pretty successful. This book teaches readers that dreams are worth going after no matter how
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young or how old. The illustrations by Amanda Hall were beautiful and perfect for this book, they reflected the real jungles (paintings) of Henri Rousseau.
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LibraryThing member pataustin
Engaging illustrations capture the brilliant hues and style of Henri Rousseau in this picture book biography. For any reader who may harbor fears that they're not good enough to pursue a passion, Rousseau's life journey and persistence will be sure to inspire. An untrained artist who began painting
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at 40 (he was a toll collector), he painted what he liked and what he imagined. Literally told he had no talent, Rousseau paid no heed to the naysayers and never stopped painting, developing a unique style.
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LibraryThing member Cheryl_in_CC_NV
Striking, glorious illustrations support a biography that focuses on HR's challenges as an untrained artist bucking convention. There is some exploration of why he painted the subjects and styles he did, but imo it wasn't quite enough. Good notes at the back.




(47 ratings; 4.2)
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