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The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau

Last updated Friday, August 5, 2016

Author: Michelle Markel
Illustrator: Amanda Hall
Date of Publication: 2012
ISBN: 0802853641
Grade Level: 2nd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Aug. 2016

Synopsis: Henri Rousseau wanted to be an artist. But he had no formal training. Instead, he taught himself to paint. He painted until the jungles and animals and distant lands in his head came alive on the space of his canvases. Henri Rousseau endured the harsh critics of his day and created the brilliant paintings that now hang in museums around the world. Michelle Markel's vivid text, complemented by the vibrant illustrations of Amanda Hall, artfully introduces young readers to the beloved painter and encourages all readers to persevere despite all odds.

Note to readers:
•  Take time or review the book again to have the kids name the animals and other things they spot in the illustrations.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What do you see on the cover? Who is the man on the couch?
•  Do you like to draw or paint?
•  Can you name any famous artists?
•  Have you ever been to an art museum? What did you see there?


•  toll collector - one who collects tolls (a charge payable for permission to use a particular bridge or road)
•  the Louvre - the principal museum and art gallery of France, in Paris, housed in the former royal palace built by Francis I. The Louvre holds the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.
•  anatomy - a study of the structure or internal workings of something
•  experts - people who have a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area
•  poverty - the state of being extremely poor
•  exhibition - a public display of works of art or other items of interest, held in an art gallery or museum or at a trade fair

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What did Rousseau like to paint? What types of things do you like to draw or paint?
•  Do you agree or disagree with the experts who commented on Rousseau's paintings?
•  What other talent did Rousseau have in addition to painting? (music)
•  Was Rousseau rich or famous during his lifetime?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a colorful collage &/or drawing of an animal or jungle scene. See examples on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/readingtokids/august-2016-art-entertainment/
•  Have the kids sketch a portrait or silhouette of themselves or of another person in the room. Then have them color jungle scenes within the sketch.

Special activities:
•  See how many famous artists the kids can name. You may want to mention a couple to start, then take turns.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!