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From The Guide: Art Appreciation

art_brooks_get into art telling storiesRita Auerbach’s extended review of Molly Bang’s Picture This 25th anniversary edition took me back to my Simmons grad school days. I remember the eye-opening experience of reading Picture This for the first time — how it forever altered the way I “read” and examine art and illustration. The following books, all recommended by The Horn Book Guide, can be similarly inspiring resources for children, providing examinations of artists, techniques, and works of art, while also encouraging their own creations.

 —Cynthia K. Ritter
Associate Editor, The Horn Book Guide

Brooks, Susie  Get into Art Telling Stories
32 pp.     Kingfisher/Macmillan     2015     ISBN 978-0-7534-7183-8

Gr. 4–6  This compelling art-appreciation/hands-on-activity volume acquaints children with wide-ranging works of art and their creators, then engages them with a related, (mostly) easy-to-follow project on a gatefold. The simple focus in this series installment — “how stories have inspired famous artists” — will help kids connect with the examples and their own projects. Crisp reproductions dominate the snazzy book design. Glos., ind.

Corfee, Stephanie  Free Spirit Doodles
32 pp.     Capstone     2016     Library ed. ISBN 978-1-4914-7945-2
e-book ISBN 978-1-4914-7948-3

Corfee, Stephanie  Quirky Cute Doodles
32 pp.     Capstone     2016     Library ed. ISBN 978-1-4914-7944-5
e-book ISBN 978-1-4914-7947-6

Gr. 4–6  Savvy: Doodle with Attitude series. In each book, an introduction (with some boilerplate text) presents doodling as a creative, relaxing pastime and describes pens, brushes, inks, and paints to use. Subsequent pages provide examples for doodles, coloring templates, and projects that may appeal most to girly-girls (e.g., “doodling the word ‘love’ in three distinct styles”). Final pages suggest items to decorate: photographs, scarves, phone cases, etc. Reading list.

d’Harcourt, Claire  Masterpieces Up Close: Western Painting from the 14th to 20th Centuries
64 pp.     Princeton Architectural Press     2016     ISBN 978-1-61689-414-6

Gr. 4–6  Kids can “take a fresh look” at twenty-one chronologically arranged masterpieces from Western art reproduced on large-format pages. For each painting, several zoomed-in details — from minute symbolism in Van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Portrait to silk-screening techniques in Warhol’s Marilyn series — are examined in call-out circles; interesting contextual information is given on following pages. The cleverly designed book includes appended lift-the-flap bios of each artist.

Heine, Florian  Impressionism: 13 Artists Children Should Know
48 pp.     Prestel     2015     ISBN 978-3-7913-7206-8

Gr. 4–6  “Impressionism changed the way we see art” is the gist of this art-appreciation installment introducing the movement’s history, notable players and works, and lasting influence. From Manet’s painting of everyday Parisian life to Monet’s focus on natural light to Seurat and Signac’s pointillism (an evolution of Impressionism), the volume is inclusive and comprehensive. Excellent reproductions, engaging sidebars, and a running timeline are included.

Hodge, Susie  Why Is Art Full of Naked People?: & Other Vital Questions About Art
96 pp.     Thames     2016     ISBN 978-0-500-65080-6

Gr. 4–6  Illustrated by Claire Goble. Critical, honest questions guide readers through an introduction to general art theory and criticism. The text, with periodic bolded words highlighting key concepts, answers some burning queries and also promotes further inquiry. Spreads feature multiple and varied captioned images, but linear layouts make the information easy to follow. Occasionally, questions encourage skipping to different sections for answers, providing opportunities for browsing. Glos., ind.

Penrose, Antony  Miró’s Magic Animals
48 pp.     Thames     2016     ISBN 978-0-500-65066-0

Gr. 4–6  First introduced to Penrose’s unique childhood in The Boy Who Bit Picasso, readers now learn about his experiences with Spanish surrealist artist Joan Miró, a family friend. Varied type fonts and children’s art inspired by Miró creatively emphasize the childlike exuberance of Miró’s animal paintings. Guiding questions about his art (“Can you see any animal shapes in these sculptures?”) and photographs of Miró are included.

Richards, Mary  Splat!: The Most Exciting Artists of All Time
96 pp.     Thames     2016     ISBN 978-0-500-65065-3

Gr. 4–6  Filled with copious captioned reproductions and photographs, this is a fascinating, perusable survey of twenty important painters and sculptors, from Michelangelo to Warhol. Four-page sections covering the artist’s background, big ideas, challenges, art movement, techniques, and influences emphasize his or her overall contributions to the art world. Occasional “How to…” sidebars encourage practicing techniques. Notable contemporary artists are annotated at the end. Glos., ind.

From the March/April 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. These reviews are from The Horn Book Guide and The Horn Book Guide Online. For information about subscribing to the Guide and the Guide Online, please click here.

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