Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers
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Annotation: The true story of the relationship between brothers Theo and Vincent van Gogh.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #135646
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 454 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-8050-9339-7
ISBN 13: 978-0-8050-9339-1
Dewey: 920
LCCN: 2016009017
Dimensions: 24 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
Heiligman unpacks the friendship between artist Vincent van Gogh and his brother Theo. Her present-tense, purposely staccato narration effectively heightens the brothers' emotional intensity, their sufferings and pleasures, and Vincent's wild and original art. The layout incorporates sketches, subheads, and generous white space, a calming counterpoint to the turbulent narrative. A unique and riveting exploration of art, artists, and brotherly love. Timeline. Bib., ind.
Publishers Weekly
As teenagers, the Van Gogh brothers, Vincent and Theo, pledged to -be companions in the search for meaning in life and meaning in art.- In this intensive exploration of their turbulent lives, Heiligman (Charles and Emma) focuses on their complex relationship and anchoring mutual bond. Writing in present tense, she follows them from their childhood closeness as two of six children of a Protestant pastor in the heavily Catholic Dutch village of Zundert into their contrasting adulthoods in France: painter Vincent-s life was precarious and erratic, while art dealer Theo-s was more stable and decorous, if often lonely. Heiligman tells the brothers- story in short chapters, sometimes just scenes, and occasionally offers what she calls -croquis- (sketches) to give a better sense of -someone whose whole being cannot be captured on paper in one steady view. Like Theo.- She also recounts, in exhaustive detail, Vincent-s frequent cycles of descent into mental illness and subsequent rebounds, as well as the way the brothers alternately clashed with and clung to each other. Extensive back matter includes a character list, timeline, bibliography, endnotes, and author-s note. Ages 14-up. Agent: Susan Ginsberg, Writers House. (Apr.)

School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 7 Up&12;Central to understanding the artist Vincent van Gogh was his relationship with his younger brother Theo, recorded for posterity in the nearly 700 surviving letters they wrote to each other. Here, Heiligman delivers an exquisitely told, heartfelt portrayal of that deep emotional and intellectual bond. It was an attachment solidified in the brothers' youth and, at times, a volatile one, given the artist's passionate, often obsessive connection to his work and his financial insecurity. Despite Vincent's fluctuating moods and fragile mental health, Theo's support and love never flagged, even when his other responsibilities and personal health issues intervened. The author frames their lives in "galleries," from their childhoods to their early deaths, delicately detailing their work, frustrations, successes, differences, and difficulties. Interspersed are croquis&12;impressionistic sketches of events and family members, friends, lovers, and fellow artists. Despite knowing how this story ends, readers will be deeply moved by Heiligman's portrayal of the brothers' poignant relationship, experiencing with them its highs and lows. Reproductions of van Gogh's sepia ink drawings open the sections, and a color insert of reproductions is included. An extensive bibliography and source notes conclude this well-documented title. Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan's compelling Vincent van Gogh: Portrait of an Artist takes a more straightforward approach to the artist's life and features quality reproductions. VERDICT A breathtaking achievement that will leave teens eager to learn more. Libraries would be wise to purchase a volume of the brothers' letters along with this book.&12;Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
As she did in Charles and Emma (2009), her biography of the Darwins, Heiligman renders a nuanced portrait of the complex, devoted, and enduring relationship between the Van Gogh brothers. Though Vincent and Theo unmistakably looked like brothers, they could not have been more opposite in habits and temperament; still, they pledged to each other as teenagers "to keep the bond between them strong and intimate." Heiligman explains: "They will be more than brothers, more than friends. They will be companions in the search for meaning in life and meaning in art….And they will, when needed, carry each other's parcels." She reveals their unfailing devotion to this pledge by drawing on the hundreds of letters they exchanged in their tragically short lifetimes, quoting extensively and adeptly integrating them into the narrative. She frames the story of their relationship as a series of gallery exhibits (introducing each with a black-and-white reproduction of a representative piece) and varies her writing style to reflect Vincent's work in different media such as sketching, drawing, and painting. Some depictions are vivid and richly textured, like Vincent's oil paintings, while others are lean and sharp, like his sketches and drawings. Her exegesis of a lesser-known painting, The Laakmolen near The Hague (The Windmill), which she sees as essential to understanding the brothers' relationship, features typically painstaking description and analysis. It and several others are reproduced in a full-color insert (not seen for review). A remarkably insightful, profoundly moving story of fraternal interdependence and unconditional love. (timeline, author's note, biography, source notes, index) (Biography. 14-18)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Vincent van Gogh is perhaps one of the best-known artists today, but it's likely he wouldn't be nearly as famous had it not been for his brother Theo, an art dealer who supported his troubled brother and championed his paintings until his own untimely death, only months after Vincent's. While each brother had a pivotal career in his own right, Heiligman (Charles and Emma, 2009) plumbs their correspondence, both to each other and beyond, and zeroes in on their relationship, which was fraught with a brotherly combination of competition, frustration, and, ultimately, adoration. Structured as a sort of gallery of key moments in the brothers' lives, the book covers their childhood and the influence of their tight-knit family; Vincent's peripatetic, sometimes scandalous pursuit of a vocation; Theo's dogged commitment to not only his own career but cultivating Vincent's; and their ultimate demises, both of which are heartbreaking in their own ways. In fittingly painterly language, Heiligman offers vivid descriptions of Vincent's artwork and life, which grow more detailed and colorful as Vincent's own artistic style becomes richer and more refined, particularly during the intense, almost manic flurry of work he produced in his last few years. This illuminating glimpse into the Van Goghs' turbulent lives and historical period will add compelling depth to readers' understanding of the iconic painter. Art-­loving teens will be captivated.
Voice of Youth Advocates
This is the story of two creative and talented brothers. Born in Zundert, Netherlands, five years apart, Vincent and Theo share a very close and complicated relationship. Heiligman begins the book with a description of the nature walks the boys take around their quiet village; they take another walk in the Hague when nineteen-year-old Vincent is working as an apprentice with his uncle, an art dealer. Vincent and Theo make a promise that they will always encourage each other to achieve their greatest potential. As the brothers grow older and Vincent hones his artistic skills, Theo takes this commitment to heart. Theo becomes an art dealer and supports his brother both financially and emotionally. He also becomes Vincent’s greatest cheerleader, advocating for him with gallery owners. At times, helping Vincent interferes with Theo’s own work and relationships. When Vincent’s mental health deteriorates, Theo realizes that caring for Vincent has taken a toll on his own well-being. This book is set up as a museum—the chapters are galleries. Heiligman’s writing is evocative; it is lyrical, and the scenes seem like paintings. She deftly explores the characters’ inner lives and gives insight into the attitude people of the day had about mental illness. Some readers may not appreciate the length and leisurely pacing. Give this to teens looking for a fresh, inventive biography.—Kirsten Pickel. This book brings history to life in a way that justifies Vincent’s actions and helps make sense of why he did many of the things for which he is known. It also helps humanize a man who is mainly known for his artwork and makes Van Gogh fans realize that he led a life full of complexities and hardships. This relatable book will appeal to more than just the art enthusiast. 4Q, 4P.—Margaret Lahey, Teen Reviewer.
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Word Count: 78,268
Reading Level: 6.4
Interest Level: 9-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 6.4 / points: 13.0 / quiz: 188898 / grade: Middle Grades+
Reading Counts!: reading level:6.2 / points:19.0 / quiz:Q70920
Lexile: 900L

Printz Honor Book * YALSA Nonfiction Award Winner * Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Winner * SCBWI Golden Kite Winner * Cybils Senior High Nonfiction Award Winner From the author of National Book Award finalist Charles and Emma comes an incredible story of brotherly love. The deep and enduring friendship between Vincent and Theo Van Gogh shaped both brothers' lives. Confidant, champion, sympathizer, friend--Theo supported Vincent as he struggled to find his path in life. They shared everything, swapping stories of lovers and friends, successes and disappointments, dreams and ambitions. Meticulously researched, drawing on the 658 letters Vincent wrote to Theo during his lifetime, Deborah Heiligman weaves a tale of two lives intertwined and the extraordinary love of the Van Gogh brothers.


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