Spotlight: Henri, Egg Artiste

Every once in awhile, I stumble upon a book that’s just unique or particularly worth mentioning.  It’s not always the newest or best-reviewed title, but one that just somehow caught my attention and is worth sharing.  Today’s spotlight is on:

Henri, Egg Artiste

written by Marcus Pfister, translated by J. Alison James

NorthSouth Books (2005)

The Preschooler is a Rainbow Fish fan.  So we’re well-familiar with Mr. Pfister.  And not just with the Rainbow Fish character.  We’ve expanded beyond that most famous fish to enjoy other Marcus Pfister works as well.

However, when we came upon this book at the library, it was new to me.  Preschooler had expressed a desire to find an Easter book with “bunnies and eggs”, and this one fit the bill.  Plus, it was by an author we were familiar with and had enjoyed in the past, so I slipped it into the library bag without reading or even skimming through the pages.  We finished our visit and went on home.

When she pulled it from the library bag and brought it to me later, I settled in for a story about Easter, and friendship, and making good decisions (a common theme among Pfister stories).  This one, however was a little different.

In this tale, egg painter Henri has grown tired of painting the “same old painted eggs, year after year.”  But Henri is famous for his eggs and knows that the children will expect to find painted eggs in their yards come Easter morning.  In a moment of inspiration, Henri begins painting designs like he’s never painted before.  His friends and family worry that the children will be disappointed, but Henri sticks with his plan.  Come Easter morning, the eggs are prominently displayed throughout the yard, just waiting for the children to wake and come upon them.

So a fairly typical Easter story, right?  What was it that caught my attention?

The designs that Henri “creates” are replicas of famous paintings throughout history.  16 different artists and styles are represented, from Dali, to Matisse, to Warhol, to Munch.  A blurb at the back of the book then identifies each painting represented throughout the story, as well as information on the artist.

Now, my 3yo was a little young to truly appreciate the artwork.  She doesn’t recognize it as anything other than illustrations in the story.  But for older readers, this would be a fantastic opportunity to combine a seasonal story with a little learning.  Some of the images, such as Munch’s The Scream, or da Vinci’s Mona Lisa may already be familiar.  But other images, such as Rothko’s modern Orange and Yellow or de Saint Phalle’s Nana may be entirely new.

A quick look online showed that this book is no longer in print.  However, there are still copies available in libraries, and through secondhand resources.  It’s worth digging around for.

Got a story that deserves a place in the spotlight?  Let me know!