cover image Sky Tree: Seeing Science Through Art

Sky Tree: Seeing Science Through Art

Thomas Locker. HarperCollins, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-06-024883-3

Science and art appreciation join forces in this unusual variation on the theme of changing seasons. Accomplished oil paintings in a high romantic style show a single tree and its surroundings in transition-in deep winter or at the peak of autumn, for example. Quasi-surrealistic scenes of clouds, birds and stars filling bare winter branches challenge the reader to imagine the tree interacting with the sky and its inhabitants, and to ponder the liberties representational artists may take. Accompanying text lightly points out incremental changes in atmosphere and their effects, and each image is paired also with a question or two directly addressing the reader (``Why does this painting make you feel sad? Is the tree dying?''; ``How does this painting capture the stillness of a snowy day?''). Written by Candace Christiansen, a chemistry teacher as well as a children's author, the questions and their answers (included in an illustrated epilogue) give a mildly scientific cast to basic lessons in understanding art. A modest introduction, but neither art nor science really blooms. Ages 5-9. (Sept.)