In this post-modern autobiographical picture book, Browne tells the story of his first trip to an art museum, which set him on the path to becoming an artist. The first several pages use a monochromatic color scheme, reflecting ambivalence about visiting. As the story goes on and we see the family step into the paintings, we see brighter and brighter with more contrasting colors. In this book, the illustrations and the concept are the star; the text itself is full of Dad’s groan-worthy jokes and other unmemorable dialogue. The endpapers are a collection of “shape game” sketches made by children Browne worked with as an art teacher. The way the characters step into the paintings as well as the paintings stepping off the page and into the art museum is exciting, poignant, and creative. Especially notable is the diagram Browne creates from an August Egg painting, pointing out various pieces of symbolism in the painting. I think many readers can relate to the idea of being bored in an art museum because you’re not sure how to interpret the art. Reading this book would be a great way to prepare a child to enjoy the art at a museum by looking for interesting details and imaging themselves in the worlds the artists create. The story concludes in a way that invites readers to make their own art by playing the shape game, emphasizing that art can be fun, simple, and social; art is for everyone, not just those with extreme artistic talent.
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