How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird

by Jacques Prevert, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein

Roaring Brook Press

Download Image by Jacques Prevert, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird

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A child wakes up, puts up an easel, picks up a brush and paints--paints a perch, a tree, the warmth of the sun and the sound of the summer breeze, and eventually a bird comes and sings.  This is both the most personal and the most universal of books from Caldecott Medal winner Mordicai Gerstin: a fable about art, wonder, and creativity that has a meaning and a message for every reader.  Universal appeal and illustration rich in warmth, color and feeling make this jewel of a picture book a lovely choice for the gift-giving season.

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Praise for How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird

"With irresistible wit, this makes its point that, with dedication, art and creativity are infinitely renewable."
--Kirkus Reviews
--School Library Journal
"This petite, elegant picture book, featuring Gerstein’s translation of a 1949 poem by French surrealist Prévert, delivers a mind-stretching allegory of artistic creation."

In the Press

HOW TO PAINT THE PORTRAIT OF A BIRD by Jacques Prévert, Mordicai Gerstein, Mordicai Gerstein | Kirkus Book Reviews
Read the Kirkus Review of HOW TO PAINT THE PORTRAIT OF A BIRD . Gerstein sets the words of the French poet to pictures.
- Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads


About the Author

by Jacques Prevert, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein

Jacques Prevert (1900-1977) was a French poet and screenwriter. Mordicai Gerstein is the author and illustrator of The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, winner of the Caldecott Medal, and has had four books named New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year. Gerstein was born in Los Angeles in 1935. He remembers being inspired as a child by images of fine art, which his mother cut out of Life magazine, and by children’s books from the library: “I looked at Rembrandt and Superman, Matisse and Bugs Bunny, and began to make my own pictures.”  He attended Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, and then got a job in an animated cartoon studio that sent him to New York, where he designed characters and thought up ideas for TV commercials. When a writer named Elizabeth Levy asked him to illustrate a humorous mystery story about two girls and a dog, his book career began, and soon he moved on to writing as well as illustrating. “I’m still surprised to be an author,” he says. “I wonder what I’ll write next?” Gerstein lives in Westhampton, Massachusetts.

Jacques Prevert
Mordicai Gerstein

Mordicai Gerstein

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Available Formats and Book Details

How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird
by Jacques Prevert, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein


American Library Association Notable Children's Books, Capitol Choices Noteworthy Titles for Children and Teens


Roaring Brook Press
December 2007
ISBN: 9781596432154
ISBN10: 1596432152
Picture Book
8 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches, 40 pages, Full-color illustrations throughout
Age Range: 5 to 9
Grade Range: k to 4

From The Publisher

Roaring Brook Press

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