on 14 June 2009
We took this book with us for our son's first trip to the National Gallery (he's 2 and a half). We spent about 45 minutes there, using this book as a guide for him. We found 8 of the pictures in it, he enjoyed sticking the stickers in the book and looking for pictures. When he saw Van Gogh's sunflowers he ran over to the painting saying: "Look Mummy, there they are! There are the yellow flowers! And they're red and green, and orange and brown too!"
Oh, and I learnt some useful bits and pieces reading the accompanying text too!
We did 8 pictures from the book this time, spending time talking about each. We'll keep the book for another visit in 3 months time - and look for more.
Usborne are fantastic at Non fiction for children and the reason for this is that they understand what will capture a child's imagination and interest. There isn't a child anywhere who doesn't love stickers and by using them in lots of their books they make sure that children have fun while learning. I wasn't sure my daughter would like this book when it first arrived, covering serious works of art from the National Gallery, but by making it interactive and involving with the child filling in the frames with stickers of famous paintings she really liked it, and so did I.
Beside each painting there's also a little passage of information, very much targeted at it's audience which makes the paintings all the more interesting and fun. Some tell an interesting story about the painting, such as Henri Rousseau's painting of a tiger ready to pounce on some explorers who are not in the picture, while others highlight a small detail that may otherwise have been missed. I liked how this allowed my daughter to see there was a story behind the paintings and she enjoyed looking for the small little details pointed out in the text. With it's fun, easy style the pictures are brought to life for young children and will encourage them to really look, think about and appreciate what they are seeing. There's a whole page dedicated to pictures with hidden meanings which I also found fascinating.
There's also a history lesson contained in this book as many of the stickers are devoted to portraits and people. My daughter particularly enjoyed the Children's Portrait page and was intrigued by the clothing, especially the boy's who she thought were girls. Through one picture we were able to talk about how children today are very lucky and that life was much harder for Children in the past and also that there were no cameras..you had to be painted instead!
I myself know very little about art and it's a long time since I visited the National Gallery. I recognised many of the famous artists, such as Van Gough and as an adult had my interest piqued by this book. I'd certainly plan a visit with my daughter to the Gallery next year when we plan on visiting London and I think she'd enjoy taking the book with her and seeing these pictures 'live', infact when we learned that the painting of WhistleJacket the Racehorse is almost the same size as a racehorse she asked if she could see it. I was very surprised at how much my daughter took away from this book and it proves how well Usborne know their audience. I'd recommend this book as something very different and interesting to children aged 5-10 years old.