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THE ART OF FREEDOM by Bob Raczka

THE ART OF FREEDOM

How Artists See America

By Bob Raczka

Age Range: 6 - 10

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-58013-881-9
Publisher: First Avenue/Millbrook

Paintings, sculpture and photographs depicting American scenes and people and representing artists and styles from the 18th century to the present are the focus of Raczka’s latest lesson in exposing young minds to viewing and understanding art. Each work appears on a bright blue or red star-studded background accompanied by a brief sentence in large white letters. The simplest ideas are the most successful. Thomas Hart Benton’s Cradling Wheat, captioned “America is hard work,” is straightforward and easily understood. But some of the selected works are more ambiguous and the concepts assigned to them might be too abstract and sophisticated for the intended audience of very young readers. Mark Tansey’s Action Painting II (of pleine-air artists painting a shuttle launch) is designated “freedom”, and Stuart Davis’s cubist The Mellow Pad is “jazz.” Thumbnails in the backmatter offer more detailed information about each piece of art and justify the interpretations. The eye-catching format is brilliant, but this is an experience best shared by older elementary readers, with an adult to lead the discussion. (Picture book. 6-10)