Treasures to See
Harcourt, Brace & World, 1956
Always on the lookout for books that open up new worlds for kids, when I first heard about this title, I was stoked. A museum guide written and illustrated by one of the greatest children's illustrators of all time? No way!
Once in hand, I immediately recognized why this book is special for a number of reasons. For one, the story is one of children visiting a general purpose arts museum... meaning it covers not just painting, but statues, decorative and Egyptian arts, stained glass, armor, tapestry and clothing. Remembering museum-going as a child, some of these areas were ones that didn't necessarily engage me right away. Here, the author sweeps the reader right in, reminding us why each piece and each genre is a treasure to see.
Another thing that makes this book unique is that the artwork depicted is real. Weisgard has created slightly abstract, but still dead-on representations of famous works; even tagging them by name, date, region and period. I will admit to ordering this title online and being somewhat disappointed at first glance ~ the same way I used to feel going into the medieval rooms of a museum as a child. But after just one read, it was easy to see what I'd been missing.
Obviously the book's lack of curbside appeal isn't just me. Mine is an exlibrary book from Lewisville, Texas, and according to the date-due-card in the back, the thing sat dormant on the self from October 26, 1984 when fifth grader Brian Blackwell checked it out until November 15, 1994 when second grader Steve took her home. Ten years is a long time to go unloved. (No wonder it is in pristine condition!) Regardless, my boy digs it... (though, just between you and me, it might be better suited for a kid five years or older.)
Because a museum of art is such a big, exciting place, with so many rooms and galleries, you cannot see it all at one time, but you will want to go back again and again. No matter how often you visit a museum, no matter how much you see each time, there are always new and exciting treasures to discover, and wonderful things to see.
The Quiet Noisy Book
The Little Island
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
The Big Book of Nursery Tales
Sir Kevin of Devon
Cynthia and the Unicorn
The Mouse and the Lion