Get ready for a fast-paced art-themed scavenger hunt in which a tousle-haired white preteen follows clues back and forth throughout the book.
The premise is that the gallery owner falls sick and puts the young protagonist, addressed as “you” throughout, in charge. “Your” job is to keep the collection safe, answer questions about paintings, mount an exhibition, and foil a robbery attempt by a rival gallery owner. The narrative on each page poses a question with three possible answers. To find the correct answer readers are referred to another page. The pages are visually confusing, as each one contains multiple disconnected elements: a scene from the narrative; three clues with graphic symbols; speech balloons and text blocks; and right and wrong answers to questions from other pages. While there are works in the gallery with which many will be familiar, including Edvard Munch’s The Scream and Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night, there are many obscure works that even the biggest art nerd would be unlikely to know. Here’s hoping there are plans to create an app, as this concept is relatively well-suited to an electronic platform, which would allow for easier navigation than flipping pages. Backmatter includes a glossary, artist index, and tips for adults on reading the book with children.
A potentially entertaining but challenging venture into the complex world of modern art that will have students and teachers reaching frequently for their reference books. (Nonfiction. 6-10)