Interior of a Restaurant

What does van Gogh’s beautiful painting of a restaurant have to do with a new eBook from the U.S. Department of Agriculture? This week, we find out.

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The children’s book, Vincent, Theo and the Fox, weaves an adventure story around Interior of a Restaurant and 29 other Vincent van Gogh paintings. Readers also want information about each painting in the book. Every Monday, I write about one of those paintings. Why this painting, this week? Hint: it’s related to what you get in a restaurant: fun and food. I’ll explain in a minute.

First, a few facts about the painting. Vincent van Gogh painted it in Paris during the summer of 1887. You can see the picture at the Kroller-Muller Museum in the Netherlands. Unlike his other restaurant pictures, which involve food, the scene in this painting takes place between meals and there is no food visible. Fine art promotor Mia Feigelson also makes an interesting observation: except for the hint given by the top hat on the hook at left of center, there is also no human presence. Van Gogh did not paint many restaurant scenes, but when he did they usually had food or people or both. For comparison, below are two of his other famous restaurant scenes (Interior of a Restaurant, Arles and Cafe Terrace at Night):

interior-of-a-restaurant-1887blog  cafe-terrace-place-du-forum-arles-18881blog

 

61cxd11m-fl-_sx423_bo1204203200_Also unlike his other restaurant paintings, today’s painting is dominated by dots. Van Gogh was experimenting with the artistic style known as pointillism. While the dots are prominent, in their book, Van Gogh’s Table: At the Auberge Ravoux, Alexandra Leaf and Fred Leeman make the point (pun intended) that van Gogh applied the dots selectively and only on the floor and walls. The concrete objects (chairs, lamps, tables, and even the top hat hanging high up) are executed with strokes, sometimes even with drawn outlines. (Their book is nice and even has 50 French recipes! Yummy.)

Ah, recipes, food, fun. That is why I wrote about this van Gogh painting this week. I was at the The National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference yesterday and the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that they just published some eBooks on good nutrition febooks_graphicor preschool and kindergarten kids. Whether you are dining in a fine French restaurant or eating at your school cafeteria, good nutrition is important. The USDA eBooks are free, kids can read the words themselves or press a button for the book to read the words to them, there is an interactive “plan your meal” page, and a maze where children have to touch the right nutritional foods to make it through to the other side. Before turning to writing, I worked for many years in the child nutrition/hunger field and some of my former colleagues created these eBooks. I’m very happy to see that they are now available. Your kids may be happy to see them too. Did I say they were free?

– Ted Macaluso

Interior of a Restaurant is the third illustration in Vincent, Theo and the Fox. The fox is hungry. He wants to eat like humans do so he goes into the restaurant. Mistakenly thinking that people must eat the flowers on the tables, he jumps up. Chaos ensues, which readers like. If you haven’t yet seen the book, it is available on BarnesAndNoble.com and Amazon.com.

© 2016 by Ted Macaluso. May be freely reproduced provided that attribution and a link to tedmacaluso.com is given.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Children’s Gifts To Tickle The Imagination

With the Christmas holidays fast approaching here are 4 books, a game, and 2 surprises worth checking out.

With the Christmas holidays fast approaching here are 4 books, a game, and 2 surprises worth checking out.

The Book with No Pictures Book with no pix

“This picture book with no pictures knows a thing or two about both books and kid-friendly comedy . . . Once children get the joke, they’ll want to play it on as many of their grownups as possible.”— The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

This book for 5 – 8 year olds has a 4.7 stars on Amazon.

4.7 stars on Amazon – check it out here.

Bugs in the Kitchen – Children’s Board Game 

Ths game won the ASTRA Best Toys for Kids 2015 award (Game Play 6+ Years). The suggested age range is 6-15.

Check it out here.

Vincent, Theo and the Fox

“It’s a compelling and suspenseful story that has a wonderful ending.  It makes van Gogh’s paintings even more memorable.

“This is the first book I’ve read where the illustrations are storied instead of the story being illustrated.  It’s a fun twist! It’s also one of the few stories where the illustrations are presented from a first-person perspective….It adds a depth of imagination that I’m not used to in picture books.  I can’t think of any other picture book doing this — it’s wonderful!”
The Picture Book Review (thepicturebookreview.com/)

5 stars on Amazon – Check it out here.

Fred & Friends MEALTIME MASTERPIECE Picture Frame Placemat, 48 Sheet Pad

MEALTIME MASTERPIECE Picture Frame Placemat

Who would have thought? A placemat that looks like a picture frame so you can arrange your food into a work of art. It is a 48 pad set.

4.5 stars on Amazon – check it out here.

Wonder 

This book by R. J. Palacio is a N.Y. Times and Amazon best seller for 8 – 12 year olds.

“Wonder is a rare gem of a novel–beautifully written and populated by characters who linger in your memory and heart. August Pullman is a 10-year-old boy who likes Star Wars and Xbox, ordinary except for his jarring facial anomalies. Homeschooled all his life, August heads to public school for fifth grade and he is not the only one changed by the experience–something we learn about first-hand through the narratives of those who orbit his world. August’s internal dialogue and interactions with students and family ring true, and though remarkably courageous he comes across as a sweet, funny boy who wants the same things others want: friendship, understanding, and the freedom to be himself. “It is only with one’s heart that one can see clearly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” – Amazon “best Book” review.

5 stars on Amazon – check it out here.

US NATIONAL PARKS. Post card variety pack

I would not usually think of a box of postcards as a gift, but if you want to enhance a child’s imagination how better to have children dream and (hopefully) mark the places they have visited. And you do not have to stop with just the parks. There are sets of cards from all around America, from Europe, and UNESCO World Heritage sites.

5 stars on Amazon- see this and other postcard sets here.

 

The Phantom Tollbooth 

Norton Juster’s hilarious book illustrated by Jules Feiffer is such a classic I cannot say enough good things about it! If you’re not already familiar with it, check it out.

4.5 stars on Amazon – check it out here.

 

 

© 2015 by Ted Macaluso