Peacock, Shane. Illustrated by Sophie Casson. The Artist and Me. Owlkids Books, 2016. $18.95. ISBN 9781771471381. Unp. Ages 4-9. P7Q9
In The Artist and Me, we learn that even the most influential individuals in history can be victims of bullying. Told from the point of view of a small boy living in Arles at the same time Vincent Van Gogh was in residence there. The boy describes the constant ridicule experienced by the famous Post-Impressionist during his lifetime. Some of that ridicule was administered by the young boy himself under the influence of peer pressure and the desire to fit in. The Artist and Me explores the universal and far-reaching effects of bullying endured by both the bully and the bullied. Casson’s illustrations are done in Van Gogh’s unique style, often depicting scenes from his most famous paintings. As a result, those unfamiliar with the painter are introduced to his distinctive approach to expression. Those already familiar with his masterpieces are reminded of his exceptional perspective and otherworldly use of color. The omission of certain aspects of Van Gogh’s personal struggles boosts the story’s ability to act as a successful cautionary tale for those participating in the harassment of others. Additionally, it offers assurance that those currently facing adversity may stand to benefit from the struggle if they persevere.
October 2016 review by Lillian Curanzy.