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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

When Pigasso Met Mootisse

[this review written for Saffron Tree]

When Pigasso Met Mootisse
written and illustrated by Nina Laden

There once was a pig named Pigasso. While other piglets rolled in the mud and played games, Pigasso painted. He painted anything and everything, and in a most unusual way.

At the same time, there once was a young bull named Mootisse... And he painted big, bold, bright pictures.

With a spot-on introduction like that with interesting word play accompanied by brilliant illustrations, this book became an instant hit with me when I first read it to Ana a couple of years ago. Being a novice art enthusiast, it took me a while to catch on to the visual pun Laden has presented as Pigasso's and Mootisse's works, showcasing their unique styles. (Like, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Picasso and The Dance by Matisse).

This book has an interesting approach to introduce the life and works of two well-known modern artists (Picasso and Matisse), whose unconventional styles took the art world by surprise during their times, via two characters that might appeal to children more readily -viz., a pig named Pigasso and a bull named Mootisse.

As each of these two artists gain reputation and fame for their peerless works, they decide to flee the spotlight and end up as neighbors. Now, being headstrong and self-absorbed, what starts out as genial camaraderie between these two neighbors soon explodes into downright hostility forcing them to put up a fence down the middle of the road to shut each other out. After a while, they start missing each other and step down from their pedestals to look at each other's art objectively. This helps them appreciate the relative merits of their respective style and vision.

However, being naturally pig-headed and bull-headed, neither artist knew how to apologize to the other. So they did what they do best. They let their paint brushes do the talking.

They each work fervently on their side of the fence until the quietness signaled the completion of their pieces. Curiosity getting the better of them, they pop over to view the other's work simultaneously and then...

...silence was broken as the two artists began laughing at their amazing work of heart.

They take down the fence and start sharing and appreciating their differences.

The last couple of pages present the true story of Picasso and Matisse, upon which this book is based, wherein we learn how Picasso and Matisse met at Gertrude Stein's party in 1906 and became friends, even trading paintings initially, until the world of art somehow made them rivals and competitors.

Over the last couple of years, this book has appealed to Ana more and more; and now, at four, she is beginning to get some of it as best as her tender mind can gather. As she gets older, I am sure this book will continue to offer more and acquire quite a special place in her bookshelf. It is a wonderful read-aloud book for all ages.

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