"This darkly fanciful portrait manifests van Gogh's inner turmoil so well that reading it is an unsettling experience. Voluminous text and busy full-bleed murals with surreal scale and stylized perspective offer little guidance about where to focus. The narrative carries Vincent and dedicated brother Theo from childhood to death. Showy yet stilted prose and the personified wind's cryptic role will bore pragmatists but please drama-seekers: Theo 'would run through the fields until his heart burst. You'll always be close, murmurs the wind, even when I blow different destinies your way.' Vincent moves from place to place, tormented, and Theo is helpless to calm him. Like his notorious meltdown ('in a moment of anguish, Vincent cuts his own ear'), Vincent's death at his own hands is neither glossed over nor fully detailed. Although his brilliant artwork is a key subject, visually it's given short shrift reproductions are dwarfed by Monaco's hectic illustrations and are too glossy to showcase van Gogh's notable painterly texture. Useful as a reflection of Vincent's unhappiness; look elsewhere to view his art."
"This literary look at an artistic life, originally published in Italy, follows van Gogh's many challenges and passions from childhood to death. His brother Theo plays a large role; in fact, Lossani says she was inspired by the siblings' letters to write this title. . . Fourteen reproductions of the artist's works are integrated into the surreal, collage illustrations, which place portraits of the painter in color-saturated settings of floating windmills, shifting clouds, giant sunflowers, and splashing paint and are well-matched to the mood and tone of the words. . . the lines are descriptive and informative and may inspire young people to, like van Gogh, connect with nature, listen to their hearts, and ask themselves about their passions: 'What will you do next? What will you become?' "
"Even as a child, Vincent van Gogh's brazen temperament set him apart. As he grew older, he struggled to escape his discontent, and after failing as a preacher, he found absolution in art. Monaco places redheaded, lean-legged van Gogh inside stylized mixed-media landscapes that mimic the brighter-than-life colors and skewed perspectives of his paintings, which appear throughout. Written in present tense, Lossani's substantial narrative offers immediacy and candor, as van Gogh alienates himself from his brother, Theo, and others ('perhaps the alcohol he has started drinking doesn't help?'), and moves to Provence, where the mistral wind and night sky unleash his most fervent creative instincts. But his mental health deteriorates, leading to his ear mutilation and suicide. The aggressive imagery in this beautifully crafted yet unhappy story may trouble sensitive readers."
School Library Journal
"This book follows van Gogh from childhood through the development of his tumultuous artistic career, concluding with his untimely death. In tracing the events of the artist's life, the author explores his close relationship with his younger brother, Theo, through excerpts from their personal correspondence. Darker elements of van Gogh's life, such as alcoholism, mental illness, and suicide, are touched upon in a way that is honest but not gratuitous. Large, imaginative illustrations match the lyrical quality of the text, while bold brushstrokes, vivid color, and images of sunflowers subtly evoke the artist's style. Reproductions of van Gogh's paintings are deftly integrated into many of the illustrations, providing readers with a look at his artistic evolution. "
Fuse #8 Production at School Library Journal
"This isn't the usual fare, which is precisely why I like it. . . for a story that delves deeply into the very brain of its subject without going too far, there are few titles to compete. A beautiful, odd book."