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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: art appreciation, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 16 of 16
1. Louise and Andie: The Art of Friendship

Louise and Andie. The Art of Friendship. Kelly Light. 2016. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Art, this is the BEST day ever! I'm so excited to meet our new neighbor. I hope she loves art too.

Premise/plot: Louise and Art are back in a second book! (Though the focus is on Louise and not her adorable, little brother Art!) Louise and Andie, the girl next door, become good friends quickly. But things don't stay wonderful long, soon, these two realize they have artistic differences. Can this friendship be saved?!

My thoughts: Loved this one. I did. I really loved it!!! It is so important--no matter your age--that you learn how to resolve conflict! I love seeing this friendship endure the stress of a big argument. I love that these two are able to work things out and really come to know and appreciate each other better.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2. The Singing Bones

The Singing Bones. Shaun Tan. 2016. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: There are stories, honed by the retelling, simplified by the people who recorded them and transmitted them, old stories, with the edges rubbed off them, like the pebbles on a beach, each story the perfect size and heft to send skimming over the water, or to use to strike an enemy. Folktalkes are like jokes: If they had a beginning, it is lost to us.

Premise/plot: The Singing Bones is a collection of photographs and one-page 'retellings' of Grimm fairy tales or folk tales. The photographs are of sculptures made by Shaun Tan. Gaiman, who wrote the introduction, probably says it better than I ever could: "They [the sculptures] feel primal, as if they were made in a long-ago age of the world, when the stories were first being shaped, and that perhaps the sculptures came first."

There are dozens of photographs. They do take center stage in this book. The words being almost like a brief but necessary interruption. The text does not summarize the fairy tale. The text is definitely on the literary side. The reader has to work to make connections and "see" the bigger story that both photograph and text tell.

My thoughts: I didn't actually love this one personally. But. Just because I don't love, love, love something doesn't mean that I don't recognize ART when I see it. This is a weighty 'literary' book that is definitely interesting and quirky. I think those who love it will really LOVE it.

This quote by Neil Gaiman was fabulous:
People need stories. It's one of the things that make us who we are. We crave stories, because they make us more than ourselves, they give us escape and they give us knowledge. They entertain
us and they change us, as they have changed and entertained us for thousands of years.
© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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3. #798 – If Picasso Had a Christmas Tree by Eric Gibbons and 30 Art Teachers

If Picasso Had a Christmas Tree An Illustrated Introduction to Art History for Children by Art Teachers Written by Eric Gibbons Illustrated by 30 Art Teachers Firehouse Publications     9/09/2014 978-1-940290-33-1 100 pages   Ages  7+ “This book was conceived of, written by, illustrated by, and created by 30 art teachers from all over the …

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4. Grandma in Blue with Red Hat (2015)

Grandma in Blue with Red Hat. Scott Menchin. Illustrated by Harry Bliss. 2015. Abrams. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Saturday is the best day. Because that's the day I go to art class at the museum. I have been coming here forever.

Premise/plot: The narrator of Grandma in Blue with Red Hat comes to an important realization about art and about his Grandma. He listens to his classmates describe art, what makes art, well, ART. He realizes that his Grandma has all the attributes of a GREAT museum-worthy piece of art. Should he donate his Grandma to the museum?! Or can he honor both his love of art and his love of his Grandma in his own special way?

My thoughts: I liked this one very much! I thought it was very sweet. It gets big and little details just right. I love his relationship with his grandma. I appreciate the focus on art. I also noticed that the narrator has two pet cats, and, that he LOVES to draw them!

Note: Not every teacher *appreciates* illustrated underwear. This one does have a LARGE pair of underwear on display at a museum...in the boy's imagination!

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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5. Inside This Book (2015)

Inside This Book (Are Three Books) by Barney Saltzberg. 2015. Abrams. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Inside this book is a book I made called...Inside This Book by Seymour.

Premise/plot: Readers meet Seymour, Fiona, and Wilbur three siblings who have all made books. Seymour and Fiona can write--so their books have words and pictures. Wilbur is too little to know how to write, but, he can draw and tell Seymour what to write. The fun began when their mom gave them books with blank pages. The books are called, "Inside This Book," "Inside This Book, Too" and "My Book."

My thoughts: I love the creativity of this one. It is fun to make books, to read them and to share them. I love that each book within Inside This Book is written in a unique voice so that readers get to know each writer. Which book is my favorite? Well, I really loved all three books. But probably I loved "My Book" best. It is the shortest, smallest, and simplest. But it is funny! I can imagine it causing giggles whenever it's read by the family.

Text: 4.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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6. The Plain Janes (YA)

The Plain Janes. Cecil Castellucci. Jim Rugg. Minx. 176 pages. 

Metro City. Last spring. When it happened, I fell. There was a pop and then nothing. I didn't know what was happening. 

I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed The Plain Janes. I didn't expect to like it so much. I didn't expect it to be so compelling. I was surprised by the depth, the substance, of the characterization.

Jane, our heroine, is just one of many Janes in her new school, new town. And at first, she finds her new world to be uninviting. But. After meeting the other Janes, she finds hope and makes a plan. A plan that will include bending a few rules. She'll start a club--a secret club--called P.L.A.I.N. People Loving Art in Neighborhoods. Her role--while anonymous--brings some great people into her life. But it isn't without some risk.

The focus is on family, friends; life at home and school. I would definitely recommend The Plain Janes.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 Comments on The Plain Janes (YA), last added: 10/26/2010
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7. All About Maude March

Couloumbis, Audrey. 2005. The Misadventures of Maude March or Trouble Rides A Fast Horse.

Sallie March, and her soon to be infamous sister, Maude, didn't intend to become outlaws. It all started one perfectly ordinary day when their Aunt Ruthie--their only known living relative--was shot down outside the mercantile. Joe Harden, the outlaw made famous by a series of dime novels, didn't mean to shoot Aunt Ruthie...as we come to find out. But the damage had already been done. The bank forecloses on the girls' home even before Ruthie is put in the ground. Now Sallie and Maude are dependent on the town's charity. Taken in by the preacher and his wife, all seems to be going well. True, the two work all day slaving away. But there is at least a roof over their heads and food in their mouths. But when the preacher tries to force Maude, then 15, into marrying a middle-aged man...Maude does the only thing she can think of: to run as far away as possible. While it's true that Maude and Sallie take two horses--a buggy pony and a plow horse. But they left them their milk cow. I figured we're owed the buggy pony and the plow horse, I told her. The one is gassy and the other is so old it would have died soon anyway of overwork. Aunt Ruthies cow is worth more than the two of them put together. That was only too true. I'd have happily ridden our cow if she could be counted on to run when I dug my heels in. She could be counted on in every other way that mattered, but she wasn't built to run(44). Now Maude and Sallie are on the run carrying what food and supplies they can. Their goal: Independence, the last known residence of their Uncle Arlen who disappeared when the girls were still young. They can barely remember him. They can only hope he's made it out west. What the girls don't know is that trouble will follow them all the way on their journey...and by the time they reach Independence, Maude's reputation will be lost forever.

I tell you all this to make you understand that Maude was an upright young woman who never made mock of the truth or questioned the dark ways of justice until she saw how truth could be mangled to make a shape unrecognizable. To have you know her for a rightly praised person who never complained about the awful twists of fate that made her life less comfortable than it might have been. To show you how impossible it was for her to do the things everyone claimed that she did. For this is the true story of how my sister, Maude March, came to be known far and wide as a horse thief, a bank robber, and a cold-blooded killer. (6)

Couloumbis, Audrey. 2007. Maude March on the Run: Or Trouble is Her Middle Name.

They say my sixteen-year-old sister passes for a man and shoots like an outlaw, and I cannot argue it, since she has done both in her day. Maude has been called a hardened criminal, and of this I must tell you, do not believe it. People say a great many things and only some of them are true. (1)

A year after the conclusion of The Misadventures of Maude March, Sallie and Maude are about to be in danger yet again. Although their simple life blending into the town has been successful so far, their cover--or Maude's cover--is about to be blown. When Maude is arrested, it is up to Sallie and the girls' friend Marion Hardly (aka Joe Harden) to break her out of jail and make a run for it. They succeed in their mission--although they end up freeing another outlaw as well--and Maude's reputation is once more being slandered. At each stop along the way, Sallie reads more and more about the supposed adventures of Maude March. One day in Kansas. The next in Arkansas. The next in Texas. It seems she can be in four or five states at once. One town even claimed to have killed and buried her. But rumors of her death don't last long. The girls soon figure out that there are dozens of women--ranging from young to old--who are out running about the west using her name and giving HER the bad reputation. In fact, they meet a few of these pretenders along the way. Yes, life is full of adventure and danger when you're on the trail with a bunch of outlaws.

http://www.audreycouloumbis.com/
Chapter One of Maude March on the Run
Chapter One of The Misadventures of Maude March

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8. Travel the World: England: Dan's Angel


Sturgis, Alexander. 2003. Dan's Angel: A Detective's Guide to the Language of Paintings. Illustrated by Lauren Child. (Published by Kane/Miller.)

Art appreciation. That's what this little book is all about. Mostly. Dan is a young boy who loves a good mystery. Loves being a detective. One day, by chance, he wanders into the art museum. He seems to be awed and a little overwhelmed with all the paintings he sees. He thinks they must tell stories, but he's not sure how to "read" the stories in the paintings. Luckily, he won't be alone on his journey. He first meets the angel Gabriel who steps right out of his painting--"The Annunciation" by Fra Angelico. Gabriel will act as his tour guide and together they will explore the stories of twelve paintings. (Eleven if you don't count "The Annunciation.") By having this dialogue--noting his observations out loud, asking questions, listening, etc.--he is able to grasp the stories of each painting. Other artworks examined include: Belshazzar's Feast by Rembrandt; Andromeda and Perseus by Piero di Cosimo; Madonna and Child with Saints by Campin; The Judgement of Paris by Lorrain; Devi Battles Buffalo Demon Mahisha; The Marquessa de Pontejos by de Goya; Soap Bubbles by Chardin; Venus and Mars by Botticelli; Sunflowers by van Gogh; Weeping Woman by Picasso; and Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist) by Pollock.

Overall, I liked it. Definitely one for older kids rather than younger.

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9. The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine


Lurie, April. 2008. The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine.

Wow. Wow. Super-wow. You must read this book. I really really enjoyed April Lurie's first book, Brothers, Boyfriends, and Other Criminal Minds though it never did get the proper review since I reviewed it while I had the flu. (Here it is in its entirety: You'll just have to take my word for it that it is fabulous. Set in 1978, it is the story of one girl--her friends, her family, her neighborhood. It all works. It's just a good, good, thoroughly enjoyable book.) I didn't think it would be possible to love this next book even more. But I was wrong. Oh so wrong. I just loved and adored THE LATENT POWERS OF DYLAN FONTAINE.

I know I can't do it justice. It's one of those books that you'll just have to discover for yourself. But I can try. The writing, the characterization, everything is just so so so good. Dylan's narration of the novel is just oh-so-perfect. As a reader I just fell in love with him, his family, his friends. Dylan's life is far from perfect, far from ideal. He's going through a lot--and I do mean a lot--we first meet him in a jail cell. But it isn't what you think, not really. Yes, he stole two packages of Fruit-of-the-Loom underwear, but really...there's a good explanation for his crime.

Read for yourself all about Dylan in this wonderfully brilliant all-too-human coming-of-age novel.

Family. Friendship. Love. Life. The good. The bad. The ugly. Full of hope, full of wit, full of authentic and unforgettable characters. THE LATENT POWERS OF DYLAN FONTAINE has it all.

First sentence: I can tell you from experience that a jail cell is not a place you'd like to visit.

April Lurie's blog
April Lurie's web site

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

4 Comments on The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine, last added: 5/31/2008
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10. Secrets of the Cirque Medrano


Scott, Elaine. 2008. Secrets of the Cirque Medrano.

Brigitte Dubrinsky was shaken out of an uneasy nap by the hiss from the steam engine and the protesting screech of the train's wheels on the track.

Brigitte is an orphan on her way to meet her aunt and uncle. Aunt Dominique and Uncle Georges own the Cafe Dominique, and they have generously offered to take her into their home. They write that if things go well, then they might very well leave the cafe to her since they have no children of their own. I should have perhaps mentioned that Secrets of the Cirque Medrano is set in 1904-1905 Paris, France. To be more specific, the text is set in Montmartre.

The novel focuses on two things in particular, three if you want to blend them together. First, our heroine is captivated by the circus, particularly the Cirque Medrano. Second, the novel focuses on art, in particular, Pablo Picasso. Picasso is a regular (though generally not a good reliable paying customer) customer at Cafe Dominique. Brigitte and Henri (a Russian boy they've hired) help out at the restaurant. They seem to take turns being fascinated with the artist and his crowd. Where these two focus-points seem to blend together is their poverty, their lower "class-ness" that makes some look down upon them. Henri is especially vocal. He believes in revolution, in anarchy, in socialism--he's always quoting Marx. Brigitte tries to understand everyone and everything...from the circus performers she befriends, to Henri, to her aunt and uncle, etc. Quite observant and full of hope, she makes for an interesting narrator.

Elaine Scott was inspired to write Secrets of the Cirque Medrano by Picasso's painting Family of Saltimbanques, 1905

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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11. Deck the Halls


Deck the Halls is a new picture book featuring the lyrics to this classic holiday song paired with the artwork of Norman Rockwell--one of the most recognizable American painters of all time. The book includes illustration credits that--among other details--shows when each one was painted. The earliest, 1917, the latest, 1964. The book can be enjoyed on several layers: it's a great song--familiar to children and adults alike; and it's great artwork. Perhaps this could be an intro to 'art appreciation' during the holiday season.



© Becky Laney of Young Readers

1 Comments on Deck the Halls, last added: 12/15/2008
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12. 1, 2, 3 I can collage!


Luxbacher, Irene. 2009. 1 2 3 I Can Collage! (Starting Art series). Kids Can Press.

This book is part of a series, the Starting Art series. Earlier titles include 1 2 3 I Can Draw, 1 2 3 I Can Paint, 1 2 3 I Can Sculpt. Granted I've only read this title--1 2 3 I Can Collage--but if the other titles are anything like this one, I must say that they'd all be must-haves for the classroom, the library, and the home.

(I think they'd be great to have if you homeschool your children. They might make you feel more comfortable, more confident, in introducing art to your children's day without feeling overwhelmed because you yourself are not an expert.)

We have within the book step-by-step projects. Everything sounds so simple, so straightforward, so direct...and so fun.

I love the note she includes for parents and teachers:

3 Tips to ensure a good collage experience every time

1. Use inexpensive materials and make sure your young artist's clothes and the work area are protected from spills. This way it's all about the fun, not the waste and the mess.
2. Focus on the process rather than the end product. Make sure your young artist is relaxed and having fun with the information instead of expecting perfection every time.
3. Remind your young artist that mistakes are an artist's best friend. The most interesting collage ideas and paper combinations are often discovered by mistake.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

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13. You're A Grand Old Flag


Cohan, George M. 2008. You're A Grand Old Flag. Featuring the art of Norman Rockwell. Simon & Schuster.

Norman Rockwell art is paired with the patriotic song "You're A Grand Old Flag" in this beautiful, celebratory picture book. Fourteen illustrations capturing the 'spirit' of America have been chosen to appear alongside George M. Cohan's lyrics. These illustrations span seven decades: the earliest being 1918, the latest being 1971.

It's a book that is enjoyable on several different levels. I love looking at the art. Studying all the details. Imagining the stories-behind-the-art. Rockwell art has a way of making me curious. Of making me want to know more.



© Becky Laney of Young Readers

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14. The Art of Reading


The Art of Reading: Forty Illustrators Celebrate RIF's 40th Anniversary. With a Foreword by Leonard S. Marcus. 2005. Dutton (Penguin).

This is a book for those with curious minds. It asks forty illustrators to talk about which books in their lives have inspired them. Sounds simple, but how would you choose just one? (That's what I'd like to know.) But what is the book like? Well, each artist is given two pages. One page for an illustration--at times this is an "inspired-by" piece. And a second page for text--a paragraph or two for talking about reading, drawing, and imagination. Who was inspired by The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe? Pat Cummings. Who was inspired by The Wonderful Wizard of Oz? Robert Sabuda. Who was inspired by Harold and the Purple Crayon? That would be Bryan Collier. It was interesting to me--and it may be to you as well--to see that novels (both children's novels and more adult titles even) can inspire potential artists just as much as picture books. (For example, The Outsiders inspired David Diaz; The Martian Chronicles inspired Brian Selznick; 2001 A Space Odyssey inspired David Wiesner.) I also loved that this book conveyed passion and enthusiasm. It was a book that showed people excited about reading, about books.

I also want to mention that this is a great browsing-type book. If you like art--no matter your age--you'll probably enjoy the illustrations in this one. It features artists paying tribute to their favorite books. So you'll see art that is inspired by particular books.

Which books have 'inspired' you in your life?

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

8 Comments on The Art of Reading, last added: 7/19/2009
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15. Lily Brown's Paintings


Lily Brown's Paintings. By Angela Johnson. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis. 2007. Scholastic. 32 pages.

Lily Brown loves her mama, daddy, and baby brother and the world they live in.
Sometimes she spins around her room thinking about their world. And it's wondrous.
But when Lily Brown paints, her world starts to change.

The sunlight turns to stars,
and Lily begins flying
around them. All the universe
is one big colorful splash.

The stars circle the planets
in Lily Brown's paintings...
Lily Brown's Paintings is a book about wonder and joy. A celebration of life and art. Of beauty and imagination. I really enjoyed this one. I thought it was beautifully written. And I thought the illustrations by Lewis complemented the text well.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

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16. Art & Max


Art & Max. David Wiesner. 2010. October 2010. Clarion (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). 40 pages.


Careful, Max!
Hey, Art, that's great!
The name is Arthur.
I can paint too, Arthur!
You, Max? Don't be ridiculous.
Oh, all right. Just don't get in the way.
Art and Max are friends. Arthur is a great artist. Max, well, not so much. He's new at it. He's got much to learn. Can a painting lesson turn into a great adventure? You might just be surprised!

I really liked this one. I liked both Max and Arthur. (I especially liked Max's enthusiasm.) I liked Wiesner's storytelling too. It's a funny story. The illustrations tell much of it.

I really enjoyed the Library of Congress Cataloging one-sentence summary:
Max wants to be an artist like his friend Arthur, but his first attempt at using a paintbrush sends them on a whirlwind trip through various media, with unexpected consequences.
It does such a great job!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

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