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Art Books for Young Readers

Look! Look! Look!

 My week has been filled with art! Last weekend, my husband and I enjoyed the Picasso exhibit at the Richmond Museum of Fine Arts. This week, I have been working with colleagues on the 16th Annual Teen Art Show. Both are awe-inspiring and worth a trip! There is a charge for the Picasso, in Richmond through May 15th, but the teen art is absolutely free and runs through March 30 at the Headquarters Library. If you attend either event, or know a child who’s interested in art, there are books to enrich their experience. 

 Three mice find a postcard that was delivered in the people’s part of the house. “Look! Look! Look!” they cry, in this book of the same name. On one side is a beautiful painting of a woman. “They looked from top to bottom, side to side, bottom to top.” One mouse, cuts viewing frames out of pieces of paper. Using their frames they discover the painting in new ways. They notice the patterns on her dress and the way her hand looks so real. They see each individual color and notice which ones are missing. Inspired, they draw the lady using only lines, but soon they recreate her using shapes and before long, are making completely new art. This book, written and illustrated by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace with Linda K. Friedlaender, is a wonderful introduction to not just looking at art, but truly seeing it.

 The Dot“The Dot” by Peter H. Reynolds demonstrates how anyone, even someone who can’t draw, can be an artist. Vashti’s paper is empty. Her teacher encourages her to make a mark, any mark. In frustration she grabs a marker and gives “the paper a good, strong jab.” The teacher studies it carefully, then hands it back and says, “Now sign it.” The next week when Vashti comes to class she sees her dot, hanging above the teacher’s desk in a swirly gold frame! Finally recognizing her own ability to create beauty, she draws and paints dots in every conceivable manner. Her work is a hit at the art show and an awestruck young boy tells Vashti how he can’t even “draw a straight line with a ruler.” Vashti hands him a piece of paper, “Show me.” He draws a squiggle. She studies it carefully, then hands it back and says, “Sign it.” I'm the Best Artist in the Ocean

 A giant squid in “I’m the Best Artist in the Ocean” by Kevin Sherry, uses his ink to draw what he sees. The other sea creatures, who sometimes find themselves covered in his medium, are unimpressed. This includes the shark who yells, “STOP! You are making a mess!” Undeterred, the squid draws all over the shark and proudly declares, “You mean…a Mess-terpiece!”
A Book About ColorAs a gardener I have read books and articles about using color, but I can never keep straight if it’s warm or cool colors that recede. Mark Gonyea has written a book that finally helps me understand! His children’s title, “A Book about Color” is a simple explanation with vividly colored illustrations, clearly demonstrating each point, from how complementary colors work together to what saturated colors look like. This book could even be used with preschoolers to introduce basic concepts.Speaking of Art: Colorful Quotes by Famous Painters
“Speaking of Art: Colorful Quotes by Famous Painters” is edited by Bob Raczka. Art, from a variety of styles, is on every page accompanied by a quote from the artist. This is a great lap book for poring over with a child. Ever masterpiece offers so much to examine and the quotes will generate great discussion like this one from Picasso, “to draw, you must close your eyes and sing.”