matisse on the looseLG
Matisse on the Loose
Author: Georgia Bragg
Pages: 149
Publisher/Date: Delacorte Press/Random House/2009
ISBN: 9780385735704
Age Levels: 8-12

Book Review

Matisse is a sixth-grade budding artist who dreams of someday having his work hanging in a museum. As the novel opens, Matisse introduces readers to his eccentric family:
For starters, Dad has his barbecue. It was specially made out of two oil drums welded together. Then Dad added the wheels with shock absorbers . . . He wheels it to pool parties, soccer games, and funerals—whatever—if someone’s paying him, he’ll be there. And with the wide-load flags sticking out of both sides of his barbecue . . . [n]o matter what direction he goes in, all the kids seem to find their way to the curb to see him, where they laugh so hard they cry.

I’ve avoided being seen anywhere near Dad’s barbecue. I’d like to keep my regular eleven-year-old life going as long as possible and not join the ranks of the crazy people I live with.
Matisse’s fourteen-year-old sister has a "purple problem." "Everything she wears and everything she has in her room is purple, and if it were possible, everything she ate would be purple too." His mother, whose actions sometimes make Matisse think her head is full of "clowns on little bicycles" is in charge of security at the local art museum.

When an exhibition of the French artist Henri Matisse (whom Matisse is named after) opens at the museum, it sets in motion events which enable the sixth grader to switch the artist’s famous Portrait of Pierre with a fake copy of his own work. Before Matisse can return the masterpiece to its rightful place, a tour group enters the room. They are awed by the fake painting, believing it to be real. Matisse is both proud and horrified. He spends the remainder of the novel trying to replace the real Portrait without anyone finding out what he has done. While doing so, he learns an invaluable lesson: Art, true art, comes from within, from one's own experiences. He learns too that family can be a wellspring of inspiration.

Bragg has created a fun page-turner that will engage intermediate readers and early middle schoolers. The fast-paced action will appeal to reluctant readers as well.

Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis
©2009 Education Oasis

About the Author

Georgia Bragg's father, mother, and brother are all artists, and Georgia is too. She was a printmaker, a painter, and a storyboard artist before becoming a writer. "My parents talked about art seven days a week," she says. "Someone's latest creation was always propped up at the dinner table, so I learned about art by osmosis. I didn't realize how unique my experience was until I got older." Georgia lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two children, and two cats.


For more information about Henri Matisse, visit the WebMuseum as well as Matisse: Life and Painting. To see a copy of Matisse's Portrait of Pierre, go here.