PUZZLING DOGS by Linda Falken


Age Range: 3 - 6
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A bound album of jigsaw puzzles made from images of dogs found in paintings or other works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Each of the eight puzzles, which range from a Renoir and a panel of 18th-century Indian fabric to a watercolor copy of a Mycenaean fresco, is cut with the same pattern into just 16 large pieces and, to make reassembly easy for the intended 3-and-over audience, embedded in a finished view. Most of the pictures are enlarged details, which blurs many of the painted pooches, their settings, and other figures and muddies up the colors. This low-rent look is intensified by an inexplicable design decision to print the solid background colors of each facing leaf with heavy abrasion, so that the whole volume appears worn by use even when new. Each image is introduced with an often inane leading question: “The artist copied part of a painting that was made on a wall more than three thousand years ago. Can you count that high?” Moreover, Falken incorrectly describes block-print production and offers technical notes (references to Renoir’s “loose, broken brushstrokes” and to another artist’s preliminary sketch rather than the finished oil painting that is actually shown) that will leave children, at least, no wiser. Puzzling Cats, a companion volume, isn’t any better produced or written.

What’s “puzzling” is how this could be regarded as even marginally worthy of its audience or the institution that published it. (Novelty. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 12th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-4197-1362-0
Page count: 16pp
Publisher: Abrams
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2015


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