Vincent Can’t Sleep: Van Gogh Paints The Night Sky (Barb Rosenstock)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Vincent Can’t Sleep: Van Gogh Paints The Night Sky, written by Barb Rosenstock and illustrated by Mary GrandPré, a look at the life and mind that inspired a masterpiece.

Even as a baby, Vincent Van Gogh didn’t need to be asleep to dream. As a child, he would sneak out of the house at night and lie out under the stars, finding peace in the vast twinkling sky. But as Vincent grew, he struggled: with money, with his mental and physical health, with the frustrating, elusive ability to express himself. Vincent had one joy and solace, and that was painting the world around him, capturing the color and light and life of what he saw onto canvas. Life was often hard for Vincent, but his pain somehow inspired him to make beautiful, timeless works that have been treasured by so many since.

Honestly, I was nervous going into this. Van Gogh was such a complicated and tragic figure that I worried how a picture book may portray him. But this is a gorgeous, thoughtful, and contemplative story that both celebrates the art of Van Gogh while not shying away from the troubled soul that created it. Vincent’s many issues are kept vague enough so as not to fly over the heads of young readers, but the delicate art and tone of the text conveys them with appropriate gravity – it’s gentle and sad in a way that children will understand but not be overwhelmed by. The art, inspired by the color palettes and curling brushstrokes of Van Gogh’s art, sets perfect tone. The length is good, and JJ really enjoyed it. A pensive yet delicate story that shows how great beauty sometimes comes from great pain – yet the beauty can be what makes the pain bearable. Baby Bookworm approved.

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