Let’s take a look at a wide variety of interesting art (and architecture) books that have caught my eye. It’s fun to to spend time with your kids reading these books and then going to a museum to experience and enjoy art up close. Of course, there’s always the option to create art at home, outdoors or anywhere you go – think sandcastles and photographs or simply designing a birthday card!
Catch Picasso’s Rooster – by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo (Sterling Publishing/Touch the Art series, $12.95, ages 4-6)
This hands-on board book should even appeal to younger children since it’s all about animals in art. Whether it’s wiggling the whiskers of The Tabby by Henri Rousseau or feeling the texture of a farmer’s blue jeans in Grant Wood’s Boy Milking Cow, the interactive artwork will make the animals seem more real and alive. Follow Picasso’s rooster on an art tour that ends on the Artifacts page with info on all the paintings included in the book. Touch more art by sampling other titles in the series including Brush Mona Lisa’s Hair and Tickle Tut’s Toes.
Lines that Wiggle – by Candace Whitman with illustrations by Steve Wilson (Blue Apple Books/Chronicle, $14.99, ages 4-8 )
Lines that wiggle, lines that bend. Wavy lines from end to end.
Let your kids use their fingers to follow the raised, glittery lines throughout the book. The humorous rhymes weave through the story side by side with criss-crossing lines that take kids swishing and zigzagging about on colorful pages and bold graphics meeting monsters and all kinds of animals. A playful book with just the right amount of twists and turns.
Paris in the Spring with Picasso – by Joan Yolleck with illustrations by Marjorie Priceman (Schwartz & Wade/Random House, $17.99, ages 4-8*)
Spending this summer stateside? Don’t despair, we’re going to visit Paris on the pages of this new book. Yolleck introduces readers to early 20th century luminaries such as Gertrude Stein, Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob and Pablo Picasso by imagining how Stein’s friends would spend a day prior to a party at her home. We are taken behind the scenes to observe the City of Light’s sights, sounds and smells and then cleverly switched to a new scene by an occasional “Pardonnez moi!” Priceman’s artwork adds to the fabulous French flavor of this book which kids and parents alike will eat up. *I think this book would be most appreciated by 6-9 year-olds.
Art With Anything: 52 Weeks of Fun Using Everyday Stuff – by MaryAnn F. Kohl (Gryphon House, $19.95, ages 4-10)
Here’s a book that’s bound to keep kids constructively occupied and entertained this summer or the entire year! To give you an idea of how clever this book is, let’s peruse the table of contents to see just what types of everyday stuff Kohl is referring to. For starters there’s address labels, aluminum foil, berry baskets and bubble wraps. Learn how to make things with buttons, cardboard tubes CDs, coffee filters and even coffee grounds! Put together a project from magazines, masking tape, paper plates and more! As Kohl describes in the introduction, the included activities stress the “process of art,” and encourage children to experiment and be creative.
An ABC of What Art Can Be – by Meher McArthur with illustrations by Pearl Watson (Getty Publications, $17.95, ages 4 and up)
This witty and whimsical alphabet book is great inspiration for children to find their inner artist. Filled with fun pictures and clever, spot-on rhymes, An ABC of What Art Can Be also includes five “Fun Stuff” pages with 15 suggestions for projects to get those creative juices flowing.
E’s for Expression,
your personal style.
You might find it soon,
or it might take a while.
Renoir’s Colors - by Marie Sellier (Getty Publications, $16.95, ages 2-5)
This interactive board book is an amiable introduction to the artwork (and children) of Impressionist master, Pierre-Auguste Renoir. By looking behind eight flaps of varying colors, we get a glimpse of a small portion of a Renoir painting which is then expanded in more detail on the following page with delightful descriptions.
White like Coco’s collar.
White like slightly itchy tights.
Coco does not like this costume,
but Renoir, his father wants to paint him as a clown.
“Daddy, are you done yet?
I want to go play!”
On the pink page you’ll see Renoir’s son Coco’s pink cheeks and on the black page find Jean Renoir’s nanny Gabrielle, whose lock of black hair has fallen over her eyes. Find painting names and dates in the back of the book then head over to the Getty to see La Promenade (The Stroll) in their collection.
Matisse on the Loose – by Georgia Bragg (Delacorte Press Books/Random House Children’s Books, $16.99, ages 8-12)
I love an action-packed adventure and this one not only includes a protagonist who just happens to be named Matisse, but it’s all about an art caper that is actually unintended. How does young Matisse replace the priceless painting by his namesake that he replaced with his own art back on the wall of the museum without getting caught? Here you have the premise for a great summer read and a rollicking romp around a museum.
The Three Little Pigs: An Architectural Tale — written and illustrated by Steven Guarnaccia (Abrams Books for Young Readers, $18.95, ages 4-8*)
Meet three of the coolest, connected pigs on the planet in this hip new take on the classic tale. These design-savvy brothers have constructed their homes out of scraps (very eco-friendly), glass, and stone and concrete having garnered inspiration from three famous architects: Frank Gehry, Phillip Johnson, and Frank Lloyd Wright. In addition to all the exciting and innovative exteriors, the interiors include some unique and fab furnishings from Starck to Stam. A read through of this book offers young readers a humorous (and surprising) story along with a virtual tour of the delightful design world as we know it. *Parents might find this book’s concept more appealing to the sensibilities of 5-9 year-olds .