Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Children's Book Review, Alphab'art

Children's Book Review by Susan Stephenson, Check out more by clicking on the right side bar, Reviews button.

Two things I love in this wonderful world are children's books and art. So how could I resist this amazing picture book? It's Alphab'art - Find the letters hidden in the paintings by Anne Guery and Olivier Dussutour, published by Francis Lincoln, 2009 (Walker Books).

A fun introduction to both the alphabet and the work of famous artists. Readers can search the paintings of Giotto, Chagall, Picasso, DalĂ­, Klee and many more to discover the letter hiding within.

Alphab'art is a wonderful way to introduce kids to famous artworks. While searching its pages for hidden letters, children are subconsciously absorbing principles of art and becoming aware of different ways of interpreting what we see. They'll pore over works by Miro, Kandinsky, Matisse and Arcimboldo, and perhaps be inspired to try different art techniques and styles for themselves.

The book is a visual treat, and works on multiple levels. I think it would interest children as young as five as a puzzle book, where they must simply search to find letters "hidden" in the paintings. Teens who are interested in art will not only enjoy the puzzle aspect, and the intriguing paintings, but also the brief notes at the end of the book explaining the significance of each painting. And I certainly see the book working well as a coffee table book, one guests will lose themselves in. Well, that's how it's been working in my house!

According to the Walker Books website, Guery is a teacher who developed this book with her children. I think Alphab'art would be wonderful inspiration for other groups of children to search out famous paintings or even each others' drawings for letters, shapes or recognisable symbols, and compile their own Alphabet Art books. If you're taking your child on a trip to an art gallery, Alphab'art makes an excellent gift for both before and after the trip. I also see it as an excellent choice for libraries everywhere, and a perfect choice for the classroom teacher who'd like to enrich her visual arts program.

Jeanne of A Peaceful Day blog wrote a wonderful article, At the Art Gallery, about how to get the most from a trip to the art gallery with your child. You can find it in Literacy Lava 7, available at my website as a free PDF.
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