Two brothers, including a future famous artist, follow a mischievous young fox on a journey of discovery through a landscape of famous paintings in this debut children’s book.
In this book’s text, young Vincent Van Gogh and his brother, Theo, are rambling through the countryside, discussing their futures, when they spy a fox who seems to be headed for trouble by eating a famer’s lunch. As they follow the clever animal, intending to keep him out of danger, the fox stays one step ahead of them, jumping from one precarious situation to the next before finally finding a golden field where he understands, “This is where a fox should be.” Macaluso was inspired to write this book by tales he told his son to enliven a museum pamphlet about Van Gogh, and he illustrates it with many of the artist’s best-known paintings, including The Yellow House, The Potato Eaters, and Starry Night. The art is beautifully reproduced in all its vibrant color and attention to detail. Around these evocative works, he builds a simple story in which both the fox and the boys begin to understand the importance of finding one’s place in the world. The well-constructed narrative weaves together the animal’s and the brothers’ revelations, such as, “Sometimes you can’t know if a choice is right unless you try it.” The 34 Van Gogh masterpieces here add depth and immediacy to the text. Adult readers, though, may find the book’s positive message somewhat dampened by their awareness of the grown Vincent’s tortured later life and suicide, which go unmentioned here, and children may regret the lack of any illustrations that actually depict the fox or young brothers. But the book ultimately holds together as a simple, but reflective, work with layers of meaning that can be appreciated by readers of various ages.
A charming, unique way to introduce youngsters to great art while providing an important message.