A rich, wide-ranging, and imaginative classroom resource.

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IF PICASSO WENT ON VACATION

AN ILLUSTRATED INTRODUCTION TO ART HISTORY FOR CHILDREN BY ART TEACHERS

This lively, illustrated book aims to teach youngsters about art and art history from the Renaissance to the present day.

Gibbons (The Inspirational Sketchbook, 2016, etc.), an artist and educator, offers the fourth installment of his If Picasso… series, this time imagining how Pablo Picasso and various other painters of different genres, styles, and historical eras might have illustrated trips abroad. In each case, an art teacher (ranging from elementary school to high school levels) chooses an artist and a landmark and then creates an artwork that emulates and honors that artist’s style. Globes marked with each destination country and Gibbons’ rhyming verses add historical, geographical, and other context to enrich the lesson. (Punctuation and spelling can be shaky, though, as in a reference to Africa’s “Victoria Fall” rather than “Victoria Falls.”) The book is specifically intended for classroom use, and Gibbons suggests that educators couple the pastiche images with known works, providing a link to free, online lesson extensions. Some artists are familiar, such as Picasso himself, Grant Wood, and Keith Haring; others, such as Marie-Anne Nivouliès, Albert Namatjira, or Sarah Mary Taylor, are less so, providing students with a rich, varied, and inclusive selection. The teachers sometimes match the styles with their subjects, such as Edward Gorey with Count Dracula’s Romanian castle; other times, they yoke them together seemingly randomly, such as Georges Braque with the aforementioned Victoria Falls. Some of the links are clever and unexpected, though, such as Winslow Homer’s sailboats reinterpreted as a saillike five-star hotel. In one example, teacher Elena Klimova paints Florence Cathedral in the manner of Vincent van Gogh; the painting shows a domed church against a swirling background, and Gibbons’ rhyme explains, “He painted in dashes of vivid, bold color, / swirling brush strokes, were done like no other.” Although the background and trees do resemble van Gogh’s work, the cathedral’s brush strokes are restrained and its drawing geometrical, featuring straight lines. These differences aren’t necessarily a drawback, though, as they could possibly lead to further, fruitful conversation on topics such as what makes a style recognizable.  

A rich, wide-ranging, and imaginative classroom resource.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Firehouse Publications

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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DIARY OF A WIMPY KID

A NOVEL IN CARTOONS

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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