Seen Art?

Jon Scieszka, Author, Lane Smith, Illustrator . Viking $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-670-05986-7

It all started when I told my friend Art I would meet him on the corner of Fifth and Fifty-Third," says the narrator of this homage to the redesigned Museum of Modern Art. The boy naively asks pedestrians if they have seen his friend Art, and when everyone quizzically replies, "MoMA?," he decides this "must be a secret code word." He follows their directions into a glass-and-concrete building, where he's directed through the galleries by patrons with varying definitions of "Art." Along the way, readers glimpse actual MoMA highlights, reproduced in miniature on the narrow, horizontally oriented pages by Scieszka and Smith (most recently paired for Science Verse ). The boy eyeballs Van Gogh's Starry Night , then goes on a whirlwind non-chronological tour from Magritte and Dali to Klee and Calder, from Meret Oppenheim's fur teacup to Dorothea Lange's photograph Migrant Mother ; he even sits on a Verner Panton chair ("Ahem. No sitting on art," says a museum guard). The narrator—a budding critic with a squiggle of hair and dots for eyes—complains that the iconic objects are "Not exactly the Art I was looking for." But by the end, his eyes look like saucers and he wears a dizzy, dazzled grin. The book design ranges from honey-toned cosmetic-counter hues to elegant grays to collage cacophony, suggesting the many moods inspired by such an overwhelming selection. The Art joke wears a bit thin, but MoMA admirers and The Stinky Cheese Man fans get a package deal. All ages. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/02/2005
Release date: 05/01/2005
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