cover image The Museum

The Museum

Susan Verde, illus. by Peter H. Reynolds. Abrams, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0594-6

“When I see a work of art,/ something happens in my heart./ I cannot stifle my reaction./ My body just goes into action.” A girl in pigtails embodies the emotions elicited by the paintings she sees, leaping, twirling, giggling, and—inspired by the famous Munch work—even shrieking, as she tours a museum gallery filled with European and American masterpieces. The spirals of Starry Night make her spin, cubist portraits cause her to pull ugly faces (“He did it first!”), and Rodin’s Thinker moves her to sit and “analyze/ the whos and whats and wheres and whys.” An expanse of blank, white canvas puzzles her until she understands it as an invitation to project her own mental state onto it: “No longer blank,/ it’s my creation.../ I am feeling such elation!” Reynolds’s (Sky Color) swooping, calligraphic ink drawings give the pages balletic charm. The girl and her surroundings are rendered in light washes, while the paintings’ colors are full and intense. Debut author Verde makes an engaging case for understanding art as an experience rather than an object. Ages 3–7. Agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (Mar.)