Helpful guidance before a museum visit.

Famous artworks speak up.

In this art survey, Mona Lisa and 30 other masterpieces in Paris’ Louvre, among them the Venus de Milo, Johannes Vermeer’s The Lacemaker, and The Winged Victory of Samothrace—describe themselves (occasionally referencing Mona). A label accompanying a photo of each piece includes, besides the work’s title, year(s) of creation, and medium, the artist’s name (if known), their dates, their nationality, and a brief biographical blurb. The works, primarily paintings by White European men (though statues and sculptures can also be found here), depict mostly White figures, although works from ancient Egypt, Sumer, and Bukhara (in present-day Uzbekistan) are included. Some pieces display nudity. Following each work is an explanatory “monologue” presented by its character(s); as applicable, some figures chat among themselves. Using colloquial language, often laced with overly hip, snarky humor, the artworks dish on their histories, artists’ techniques (defining technical terms), and more. Blake’s quirky drawings embellish the text. An art book’s chief function is to invite readers to scrutinize artworks closely to better understand and appreciate them. This title accomplishes that task: These masterpieces assert themselves well overall, and examining them is both illuminating and fun. However, small details in some works may be tricky to spot. Additionally, though some featured works are among the world’s most celebrated, not all are equally child appealing. A short essay about the Louvre concludes the book.

Helpful guidance before a museum visit. (ways to think about art, timeline, glossary, list of artworks, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: June 6, 2023

ISBN: 9780500652749

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023


Occasionally clever—fifth-grade boys will love it.

“There is a lot of nonsense written about the human body,” writes the author, “and this book is no exception.”

Though not quite making good on his promise of “100 percent fact-free chapters,” (he does accurately describe “chondrolaryngoplasty”) Griffiths’ anatomical tour in general steers clear of anything that would be marked as correct on a test. From “Ears can be big or small, depending on their size” to “Capillaries are the larval form of butterflies,” he offers pithy inanities about 68 mostly real body features. Though he closes every entry with “That is all you need to know about…,” he then goes on to regale readers with the news that the epiglottis was named after a Greek philosopher and other “Fun Body Facts.” Similarly, noting that his illustrations “may not be scientifically accurate” (the understatement of the decade), Denton nonetheless provides on nearly every spread profusely labeled, free-association cartoon views of each body part. These are filled out with tiny figures, mechanical apparatus and miscellaneous junk. Though serious young researchers may be disappointed to find the “Private Parts” pages blacked out, a full index follows to provide ready access to any references to poo, pus, farts, drool, “sneeze-powered missiles” and like essentials.

Occasionally clever—fifth-grade boys will love it. (Humor. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-36790-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012



Lyrical notes add wonder to a bright mix of creative arts and scientific fact.

How the hues that bring art and fabrics to life are made and used.

“BEFORE COLORS, blue gum trees swelter in the sun. Someone strips off leaves and boils them. She is making…ORANGE.” Sticking largely to colors produced from natural sources—with nods to a few manufactured hues such as mauve and the recently discovered “Vantablack”—Pimentel deftly describes how each in turn is derived, usually from multiple plants native to diverse regions of the world, from minerals, animal products, or other materials, like ground-up mummies for “mummy brown.” She enriches each entry with specific examples of its uses, with notes on topics from mordants to Vincent van Gogh’s fondness for various shades of yellow and the work of modern Indonesian artist Iwan Tirta in reviving batik. She mixes in more general considerations of the science of vision, too, such as how direct light rays and reflected ones produce different “primary” colors and how colors are differently perceived and classified in different cultures. Along with precisely drawn botanical and mineralogical vignettes, Safer underscores the author’s global perspective with frequent full-page scenes of artists and dyers, mostly women and often with children in attendance, linked by dress or surroundings to a broad range of times and cultures.

Lyrical notes add wonder to a bright mix of creative arts and scientific fact. (activities, quotation sources, selected sources) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: June 6, 2023

ISBN: 9781419757068

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023

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