VINCENT AND THEO by Deborah Heiligman a #CYBILS 📚🎶

vincent and theo deborah heiligman book playlist


By Deborah Heiligman

Henry Holt

Young Adult Nonfiction
Art & Creativity, Family, Mental Health

Winner – High School Nonfiction
2017 CYBILS Awards

The Book


Vincent and Theo is a story of brotherly love. The Van Gogh children were raised to help and look out for each other. Theo, though younger than Vincent, took this advice to heart. He spent his life helping, encouraging, prodding, and saving his brother. It was at Theo’s urging that Vincent became an artist at all, and it was Theo who introduced Vincent’s art to the world. Theo’s financial support which kept the artist afloat when no one was buying Vincent’s art.

Author Deborah Heiligman meticulously researched the Van Goghs by poring over hundreds of letters written by Vincent to Theo and in the process brought to life this marvelous story of love between brothers. Vincent and Theo: the Van Gogh Brothers is a beautifully written book that is narrative non-fiction that reads like fiction. It has an appealing layout with short chapters. This book is not just a book about a painter and his brother, but a book about mental illness and its impact on Vincent Van Gogh’s life, his art, and his relationships; it has themes of love, resilience, and influence. This book shows the importance of Theo in Vincent’s life and that without Theo, Vincent wouldn’t be the man and artist that he became. Although this book is more than 450 pages, it will lure readers in and keep them turning its pages.

Blurbs by Anne Bennett, My Head is Full of Books and the 2017 High School Nonfiction panel


The Music

Vincent and Theo explores the complicated relationship between two brothers, describing how they supported each other through life’s hardest times. This playlist, which touches on mental health issues, reflects some of Vincent’s deepest struggles and features songs inspired by his story The Starry Night, his signature painting.

Some songs explore themes of family and relationships, while others describe creativity and finding your path in life. Overall, Vincent’s tumultuous journey finds its beautiful reflection in this thoughtfully curated playlist. It encapsulates the essence of his passion and the enduring bond with his brother Theo, offering listeners a poignant experience through the highs and lows of their extraordinary lives.

The Girl

Riya Fernando

Riya is thrilled to be able to combine two of her favorite things: books and music. She is an avid reader who can often be found with her nose in a murder mystery while listening to contemporary piano music, her favorite genre of piano music to listen to and play. She was introduced to CYBILS Awards through her mother, Category Chair and CYBILS Awards Board Member, who helped Riya cultivate her love for books. She hopes that others will love these playlists as much as she does!