Monday, March 29, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Speaking of Art by Bob Raczka, reviewed by Fegan

Raczka (some day I will learn to spell that without looking at it) has done it again. We have thoroughly enjoyed his other books, especially The Vermeer Interviews, and this may be our new favorite. A simple collection of artwork paired with quotes by various artists, this book would be a delightful way to introduce people of any age to famous works.

Some of the quotes are surprising or funny, such as, "If I didn't start painting, I would have raised chickens," from Grandma Moses. Any one of the quotations or pieces of art could spawn a whole discussion or lesson. Using this example, what would Mom/Dad have done if not for their current line of work? What paths did they choose not to take in their life? Children are often thrown for a loop when they realize Mom and Dad had a life before them. This can springboard a discussion of possible paths they will have before them, how they might choose which ones to take, and what the consequences might be of making different choices. Not feeling philosophical? Try Jasper Johns's advice to "Take an object. Do something to it. Do something else to it." What fun could you have with that?!

In addition to serving well on a library or classroom shelf, this book would make a great gift for families whose parents and kids "do things" together. I could also see a teacher using one quote and art pairing each week for discussions and activities. As always, Lerner, who provided our review copy, has done a great job with the binding and print quality.

Check out more great nonfiction books here


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