They can feature history, art, science or a combination of all of these or something else entirely. Many times the focus will be on a event, a particular person, a significant place or a fascinating discovery. ( The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, The American Museum of Natural History [Wonderstruck], The Metropolitan Museum of Art [From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler]) Large or small in scope, museums collect and preserve so others can enjoy.
In an art museum, images, frozen moments, captured using an assortment of mediums, through numerous techniques and combinations, can stir the music of emotion within us. Like a treasure box, it holds these images, memories and the expressions of others that may mirror our own. The Museum (Abrams Books for Young Readers, March 12, 2013) written by Susan Verde with illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds conveys one girl's day spent in wonder.
When I see
a work of art,
Art causes this viewer to move and be moved. She jumps and leaps, she becomes a ballerina or twirls in circles like the stars in Van Gogh's Starry Night. She notices and makes notes about the smallest of details in traditional or abstract pieces of art.
Her active participation in what she sees, actually tires her out. Resting, she sits and thinks while looking at Rodin's The Thinker. As she walks and explores she finds that art can make her feel sad, hungry or joyful. She mimics, she makes faces, and can't stop laughing. An understanding flows outward to the reader; art is alive.
The final wall with the final canvas gives her pause. It's blank, totally white. Confused she closes her eyes to ponder the possibilities. That's when everything she's seen, everything she's felt, everything she's done, begins to create her work of art.
On an outing with her children at an art show Susan Verde was given the spark for this story. This personal incident clearly demonstrated the power of images. In this title through the voice of the girl rhyming phrases transport readers; we experience what she experiences. Word choices, while conveying a variety of moods, are ultimately uplifting. You can't help but draw the same conclusion the girl does.
Upon opening the book's jacket we are greeted by a young girl joyously embracing her visit to the museum; shades of yellow, some rose and the metallic purple title depicting her mood within the frames. The cover shows two different framed scenes with added colors. The front shows her again leaping but this time she is outside in the evening. On the back, as on the jacket, she is acting in response to a specific artist's work
The endpapers tell a story of their own. Across the opening two pages familiar and original artwork, given a unique flair, by the hand of Peter H. Reynolds are hung for all to see. The closing two pages are blank frames, canvases and even an easel waiting to be filled.
Reynolds begins his enhancement of the text on the title page, showing the girl walking up the sidewalk into the open museum, a cityscape in the background. The lightness found in the narrative is continued in his abundant use of white space. His watercolor illustrations vary in size and placement, a perfect match for the story on every page. My favorites are the pages when several pictures give the girl a fit of giggles causing her to kick her legs while lying on the floor and when she stands still eyes closed, hands crossed over her heart, knowing where the true museum resides and the final two showing her dancing through the night on her way home.
The Museum written by Susan Verde with art by Peter H. Reynolds will have readers wanting to schedule their next visit to a museum as soon as possible. I would also venture to guess that many will want to round up the appropriate tools to make their own art whether its tempra paint with carved potato halves, a camera or pressed flowers found in gardens, fields or the woods. Museums really are everywhere each and every one of us is.
Follow the links embedded in the author's and illustrator's names to their websites. One page at Susan Verde's site is dedicated to teachers and parents with lots of extras. Here is a link to an extensive Educator's Guide for The Museum designed by FableVision Learning. Susan is interviewed by author Beth Stilborn here.