A debut book for early readers that seeks to inspire children to love the world of art.
Simon and Sophie are cousins on a field trip to an art museum with their sixth-grade class. Like many kids stuck on a museum tour, they’re restless and uninspired, so they strike out on their own to explore the building. They come upon a strange statue of an angry man holding a boy’s arm; the boy looks scared. As it turns out, that boy’s name is Arthur, and he comes alive in order to teach Simon and Sophie a lot about art—and about how they and their friends can get a lot more out of their next trip to a museum. He takes the two children on a private tour: “He waved his hands and spoke fast as he explained each piece.…His excitement bubbled over. That made Simon and Sophie excited about the art.” Unfortunately, the crux of the story—the kids’ journey to true art appreciation—takes up just a few sentences. The third-person narrator tells readers that Arthur, Simon, and Sophie are excited, but he doesn’t give them a chance to feel that excitement, or experience the works, for themselves, aside from a couple of pieces. Simon and Sophie do learn a new way of thinking and talking about art, however, which may inspire some young people; at one point, for example, Sophie observes that a painting of a sad little boy makes her feel sad, too. The bulk of the book, though, is devoted to telling readers what to think. For example, after Arthur beseeches Simon and Sophie to “become ambassadors of the arts,” they agree, in Simon’s unlikely words, to “tell others about how art crosses every border and how it gives us a glimpse of the quality of life around the world and throughout time.”
A kids’ book about art that’s all
about telling, and not enough about showing and feeling.