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Mr. Gauguin's Heart

by Marie-Danielle Croteau
illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
translated by Susan Ouriou

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art, painting
list price: $22.99
published: 2007
publisher: Tundra
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Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

Mr. Gauguin’s Heart

This charming and heartwarming story tells how young Paul Gauguin, who became a famous artist, learned to channel his grief from his father’s death into his first painting. Based on a true story.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2008.

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Based on a true story, Mr. Gauguin’s Heart is about the birth of imagination and the solace of art. Young Paul Gauguin sailed from Denmark to Peru with his family: his mother, his father, his sister, Marie, and his odd-looking, imaginary orange dog. At first being on the boat was fun; he loved to walk his dog on the ship’s bridge. Then one day, Paul found his mother in tears; his father had died.

When the ship docked, Paul refused to leave. Then an old man took him by the hand and in a few brush strokes, he had stirred a passion that lay just beneath the boy’s surface. He had shown Paul how to paint, but, more than that, he taught him how to bring his memories to life.

Mr. Gauguin’s Heart is a charming and heartwarming story of how, as a boy, Paul Gauguin learned to channel his grief from the death of his father and pour it into his first painting — one that would pave the way to many masterpieces.

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Contributor notes

Marie-Danielle Croteau was born in Quebec, where she studied communications and art history in university. Croteau has worked for both Radio-Canada and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Over the course of twenty years, she has lived in Africa, France, the Caribbean, French Polynesia, and Central America. She has also crossed the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans in a sailboat with her husband and her two kids, both born in Africa. During her travels, she wrote her first novel, which was published in 1993. Croteau is now a widely recognized author for both children and adults. She splits her time between Quebec City and Costa Rica.

Isabelle Arsenault is a graphic-design graduate who has applied her skills to illustration. She contributes to magazines and newspapers across the US and Canada, and has been the recipient of major illustration awards such as the prestigious Governor General’s Literary Awards for Illustration, Communication Arts Illustration Annual, and the National Magazine Awards of Canada. Arsenault lives in Montreal, and Le coeur de monsieur Gauguin, the original French version of Mr. Gauguin’s Heart, is her first book.

Susan Ouriou is a Calgary-based novelist, interpreter, and translator of fiction. One of her greatest pleasures is sharing with English readers, young and old, the stories she loves in French and Spanish. A runner-up for the John Glassco Translation Prize for The Thirteenth Summer and two-time finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Translation for The Road to Chlifa and Necessary Betrayals, she has some twenty translations to her credit as well as her own novel Damselfish. Currently, Ouriou is busy writing her second novel.

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About the Authors

Marie-Danielle Croteau

MARIE-DANIELLE CROTEAU was born in Quebec\s Eastern Townships and dreamed of travel and adventure from an early age. Educated in Communications and Art History she has worked for Radio-Canada and Montreal\'s Musée des Beaux Arts. She has lived in Canada the Caribbean Africa and France. She has written many books for people of all ages.'
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Isabelle Arsenault

Isabelle Arsenault is an internationally renowned children’s book illustrator whose work has won many awards. Her books include Alpha, Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear, Cloth Lullaby by Amy Novesky, Once Upon a Northern Night by Jean E. Pendziwol and Migrant by Maxine Trottier.

Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault first collaborated on the graphic novel Jane, the Fox and Me, winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Illustration (French) and the Joe Shuster Awards for Best Writer and Best Artist. It was also named a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book.

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Susan Ouriou

SUSAN OURIOU is considered to be one of Québec’s finest translators of literary fiction. With Christine Morelli, she has previously translated Fanny Britt’s acclaimed novel Hunting Houses for Arachnide.

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