Anna at the Art Museum
Anna at the Art Museum
So, Anna and her mother had a talk. It was one they’d had earlier, but perhaps Anna had not listened quite as closely as she should have.
Visiting an art museum with her mother is too boring and restrictive for Anna. She tries to make her own fun by running around, climbing on interesting structures, and roaring loudly at the ceramic lion, but the museum attendant is always just around the corner ready to remind her of the rules. Anna tries to keep herself occupied while her mother enjoys the art, but it’s a struggle until she spots a half-opened door with a “no entry” sign taped to it. To her surprise and delight, the attendant actually lets Anna into the secret workshop where she finally discovers a work of art that resonates with her. The image of a bored, grumpy girl in a painting is transformative for Anna as she begins to understand that art is for everybody.
Art truly is for everybody in this charming book. Every page features authentic art work from a variety of artists. The attention to detail is sublime as Crump’s gorgeous characters and scenery work to mirror the featured pieces on the wall that span centuries and cross oceans. Seurat’s The Forest at Pontaubert is accompanied by the forest of tall, thin legs of museum goers unaware of Anna underneath them. Anna’s mother takes in Monet’s Regatta at Sainte-Adresse while her daughter stares longingly out the window at the boats afloat just below them. If you’re not familiar with the art, there is a wonderful section in the back of the book to encourage further exploration. Each page begs the reader to pause to take a closer look.
The story, itself, is one to which children will easily relate. Who among us hasn’t tagged along to a place or event that didn’t feel like a good fit at first? Just as Anna sees herself in the painting of the bored child, children will see themselves in spirited, uninitiated Anna. As Anna warms up to the colours and styles and beauty around her at the museum, the reader (or listener) will see the experience in a new light, and be able to compare Anna’s evolution to a similar time in his or her own life. Anna shows children that sometimes all it takes is a small adjustment to instigate a big transformation – of mood, of understanding, of appreciation. Anna at the Art Museum would be a great book to read before visiting a museum, to prepare children and manage expectations, but truly it is a good book to read any time.
Amber Allen is a librarian in Guelph, Ontario, with a passion for children’s literature and writing.