Ella's Trip to the Museum

Elaine Clayton, Author
Elaine Clayton, Author Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers $14 (1p) ISBN 978-0-517-70080-8
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
Hardcover - 1 pages - 978-0-517-70081-5
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Most museum-goers just stand in front of a painting or a sculpture, but the uninhibited title character of Clayton's debut leaps and spins. Although docent Mrs. Jasper flashes ""her worried look"" and a guard issues a warning (""No silly-walking in the museum!""), Ella imagines herself dancing with Degas-style ballerinas, friendly neoclassical cupids and a statue of a serene Roman goddess that miraculously hops off its pedestal. When the docent scolds, ""I want you to experience the art,"" Ella responds, ""But I am!"" Ella's enthusiasm infects her three quiet classmates, who comment benignly through italicized asides--""That looks fun!"" ""Yeah!""--and who, when Mrs. Jasper turns her back, finally join in the dance. Clayton aims for a dreamy effect in her gestural watercolors. She draws each scene with loose lines, then adds floaty brushstrokes to make the characters' draped clothing look pillowy-soft. The apple-cheeked children exchange some rather syrupy smiles, but their blissed-out expressions show without a doubt that fine art should transport its viewers. Ages 3-7. (May)
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