June 17, 2013
In this monthly column, Etta Kaner shares some of her favourite children’s books written for a variety of ages.
If you find that you don’t have time or perhaps money to take your children to the art gallery but still want to expose them to well known artists and their works, you might want to share these books with your children.
Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose: The Story of a Painting by Hugh Brewster (published by Kids Can Press) is written in first person by Kate Millet, who reminisces about the time artist John Singer Sargent came to stay with her family in England in 1885. From Kate the reader gains an understanding of Sargent’s personality, the influence that French impressionists had on his work, and the fact that he painted outdoors rather than using indoor models and props. Prints of his art interspersed throughout the book reveal his favorite subjects — lilies, children, people in boats, nature and portraits. The last painting shown is the culmination of the charming story that weaves through the book and bears the title’s name. If you want to know just what the title means, you’ll have to read this well designed and interesting book written for 9- to 12-year olds!
Art Auction Mystery: Find the Fakes, Save the Sale by Anna Nilsen (published by Kingfisher) is an interactive book that will be enjoyed by 10-year olds and up. Readers are invited to find 16 forgeries that mysteriously appear in an art auction. Fortunately, clues are provided in the form of the original paintings to aid in comparison, as well as symbols embedded by the forgers in the forgeries. Each original is accompanied by a paragraph describing the artist’s background and style as well as a detailed explanation of the particular painting included in the book. Artists represented in this book range from the 14th to the 20th centuries and include such greats as Bosch, Cassatt, Cezanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Goya, Manet, Picasso, Rembrandt, Renoir, Warhol, Whistler and more for a total of 34 artists. Good luck with your detecting!
Meet the Group of Seven by David Wistow, Kelly McKinley and the Art Gallery of Ontario (published by Kids Can Press) is a well designed book that informs readers about the unique style common to this group of Canadian artists as well as their particular personalities and backgrounds. Landscape prints representing different parts of Canada as well as portraits by the Group of Seven illustrate the book along with black and white photographs showing the artists at work. Interesting tidbits include differing opinions by critics about the new art style at the time, artists who were influenced by the group, and what we can learn today about nature by studying their paintings. Eight- to twelve-year olds will definitely enjoy and learn from this easily accessible book.
The Painted Circus by Wallace Edwards (published by Kids Can Press) is an interactive book in which the reader is invited to try various optical illusions presented in zany, detailed, colourful circus scenes. These incredible scenes and illusions challenge readers to make objects appear and disappear, to find objects that don’t seem to be there at first glance, to find faces that change expressions, and more. Talented author/illustrator Edwards briefly describes what is happening in each scene, often using extensive alliteration, and then explains what the reader must do to gain a different perspective in order to see the illusion. This high energy book will engross 9- to 12-year olds for hours, and might even inspire them to create their own optical illusion masterpieces!