Mr. Gauguin's Heart

Mr. Gauguin’s Heart

A review of Mr. Gauguin's Heart by Marie-danielle Croteau

Published on October 1, 2007

Mr. Gauguin’s Heart
Marie-danielle Croteau


Travelling to Peru with his family, young Paul Gauguin (yes, that Paul Gauguin) keeps busy by drawing pictures and playing with his imaginary orange dog on the deck of the ship. When his father dies suddenly on board the ship, his mother explains that his father was “carried away” and that the cause was his heart. Confused, grieving, and with a child’s capacity for simultaneous literal and imaginative thinking, passengers see merely the brilliant red sun on the ocean horizon. While his mother and sister cry in their rooms, Paul seeks out his father’s heart on the sea.

When they arrive in Peru an old man takes Paul to a park, shows him how to paint, and encourages him to make a painting of his own. Arsenault’s illustrations vividly render both the real and the imaginative: the pale faces of the mourning family members, the orange dog who accompanies Paul, and the father’s heart that rises and sets on the young artist’s formative days.
For ages 6-9. mRb

Annie Murray is a Montreal librarian.



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