Mousterpiece

Jane Breskin Zalben. Roaring Brook/Porter, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-59643-549-0
Janson, a mouse who looks a little like Arthur’s sister D.W., lives in a museum and paints a string of homages to modern artists before creating, on the last page, a dreamy “mousterpiece” that signals her attainment of true artist status: “[S]he did it her own way. In her own style. Unlike anyone else’s.” Most of the pages, though, are devoted to sweet-tempered parodies of modern artists: Janson does mouse versions of Josef Albers, Frank Stella, Chuck Close, and many others, adding a mouse face to a Warhol can of soup and subtracting a mouse-shaped white space from a spattered Pollack. Since children won’t necessarily be familiar with the artists, Zalben’s story offers an opportunity for adult-child discussions; an afterword provides sketch biographies of the artists Janson imitates, although the accompanying thumbnails only show Zalben’s (Baby Shower) parodies once again, not the originals. (Also, 22 artists, and not a single woman.) Best used in combination with outside resources that allow for a fuller understanding of the artwork presented. Ages 3–7. Agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown, Ltd. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/28/2012
Release date: 08/21/2012
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