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WHEN PIGASSO MET MOOTISSE
Written and illustrated by Nina Laden
ISBN# 0-8118-1121-2 (Hardcover)
Published by Chronicle Books 1998
When Pigasso met Mootisse- or was it when Mootisse met Pigasso? -what begins as a neighborly overture between a painterly pig and an artsy cow escalates into a monumental modern art mess. Before you can say paint-by-numbers, the two artist are calling each other names and ultimately building a fence between them. But it turns out that what divides them also reunites them. And when they accidentally create a masterpiece together, they learn that their friendship is the greatest work of all. Includes biographies of the artist Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.
"Verbal and visual puns fill Laden's sly homage to Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, who are keenly caricatured as a prima-donna pig and a feisty bull. Pigasso is a dark-eyed hog in a red beret; his facial features rearrange according to his mood, and bruisy hues of blue and purple shadow his yellow-pink complexion. His painting of female pigs a crafty version of Les Demoiselles d'Avignon causes an art-world sensation. A canvas by Mootisse, a sophisticated orange bull with a neat brown beard and red-framed spectacles, featuring five graceful, nude cows" The Dance with udders" is hailed as a "Moosterpiece." After urban success, Pigasso and Mootisse move into countryhomes on either side of an ochre-dirt road. Pigasso's landscape features a tart-yellow house, angular shrubbery and a sharp-edged apple tree bearing cut-open fruit. Mootisse's farm offers a curvy tree, a patchwork garden of cutout leaf-shapes, and a construction-paper-smooth lawn that complements the red house. The artists at first share baguettes and bottles of wine, and make gifts of their paintings, but their friendship erodes as they snipe at each other's styles. Laden lightly satirizes the duo as "pig-headed and bull-headed," respectively, then lets them admit grudging admiration. She cites cubist and fauvist philosophies (Pigasso calls his rival a "wild beast"), and she mimics the real painters' techniques, so that Pigasso favors hard black outlines and Mootisse prefers brilliant side-by-side shades. While junior art historians familiar with the artists' work will laugh loudest, an afterword offers novices the background for this well-observed comedy."
"In this delightful tale of modern artists, a porky Pigasso and a bullish Mootisse start out as neighbors but end up feuding when they start criticizing one another's work. Now rivals, they transform their farms into bold works of art and then build a fence between the properties. However, the painters find that they miss one another's company and they each paint an apology on the fence-paintings that wow the critics and make the two fast friends. Based loosely on the real-life relationship between Picasso and Matisse, Laden's tale is a wonderful tribute to these exceptional talents and to the concept of accepting the ideas of others. The story is fast paced, packed with humor, and filled with clever wordplay. The bold acrylic paintings perfectly capture the duo's volatile temperaments and different artistic styles; they are fun to look at and reinforce the lighthearted mood of the text. Bound to entice its audience to learn more about these painters, this title is a sure bet for any children's collection. Use it in conjunction with Kathleen Krull's Lives of the Artists (Harcourt, 1995) or appropriate entries in Ernest Raboff's "Art for Children" series (Doubleday)."
-School Library Journal
American Booksellers "Pick of the Lists"
Prix du Festival, Cherbourg, France