Tuesday, November 24, 2009

You Can't Take a Balloon into...

The Metropolitan Museum
The National Gallery
The Museum of Fine Arts

by Jaqueline Preiss Weitzman and Robin Preiss Glasser

Thumbs up.

I really liked this set of three wordless picture books. In each, there is a brother and sister and the grandparents touring a famous museum in an important American city. The girl brings a balloon along each time and has to leave it outside with a different someone in each book. The balloon gets away and floats around the city visiting famous landmarks. Meanwhile the children and grandparents are inside viewing famous works of art. But all ends well as the balloon finds its way back to the museum each time, just in time for the family to come out.

The Metropolitan Museum is in New York City, the National Gallery is in Washington, DC, and the Museum of Fine Arts is in Boston. The author/illustrator team really hit their stride with the second book. The second and third include a map of the city with the route the balloon is traveling and all the famous landmarks. All three include notes at the end on the works of art viewed by the family. But the second and third also include notes on famous people who somehow end up with cameo appearances around town in the illustrations. In the second and third, Ms Glasser also manages to have the people in the balloon chase imitate whatever is going on in the art work being viewed back at the museum.

Theses really are a treat to look at. Although the reviews on Amazon rate them for ages K-3, K-4, and K- 5, respectively I "read" one of them to my kids the first night we had them from the library and I had all ages on the floor surrounding the book. I would have enjoyed spending much longer to look at them, and still hope to get a chance, in order to absorb all the historical figures popping into the pictures. I think the bigger kids have had them in their bedrooms going over them.

Other children's picture book connoisseurs may recognize the illustrations by Robin Preiss Glasser. She did the illustrations for the historical picture books by Lynne Cheney, such as A is for America and A is for Abigail. She also does the Fancy Nancy books, of which we are great fans.

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