In The Museum a young girl tours a museum and reacts in active ways to the art that inspires her. A painting of a dancer makes her pirouette. A painting that resembles Starry Night makes her twirl. She imitates the posture of a thinking sculpture, and the expression of a screaming man. At the end of the book, a blank canvas, together with what she's seen, inspires the girl to imagine creating her own art.
Susan Verde's text comes as a series of rhyming couplets, all of which celebrate art, movement, and/or emotion. Like this:
"This one makes me
want to post
and stand up on
Now I'm all twirly-whirly,
twinkly, sparkly, super swirly.
I take a breath.
I can't wait to see
The above is across two page spreads showing three different works of art. As you can see, Verde varies line lengths, but keeps to an overall consistent rhythm. Some of the examples are obvious, like the girl making faces at a Cubist type painting, while others are more creative (Calder-esque art evoking a fit of giggles), but all are apt.
By themselves, some of the rhymes in The Museum might come across as a bit trite. But Peter H. Reynolds' illustrations bring the book to glorious, colorful, active life. Reynolds in an end note refers to his ""ish-ful" nods to famous works of art", which are quite successfully mixed in with his own original pieces. The background of the book is kept spare and white, so that all of the reader's attention can focus on the art and on the reactions of the girl.
It's fun as an adult reader to note resemblances to famous works of art (though I'm sure in my college days I would have recognized more). I think that kids will appreciate following the graceful movements of the girl, who leaps, twirls, and spins across the pages of the book.
I also like how the cover of The Museum looks like a painting (particularly against a white background, as above). And I love the upbeat nature of the end of the book, when the girl is "energized" by what she's seen (or more accurately experienced) at the art museum.
The Museum is pretty much the perfect book to read with your kids before a trip to an art museum. I think this is true even for older kids. It's also a book that might inspire any young, budding artist. A must-have for libraries, The Museum would make a great add-on to an art-themed birthday gift for any child.
Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers (@AbramsKids)
Publication Date: March 12, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
FTC Required Disclosure:
This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).