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Accessible Art by Simon Barrett

In recent years there have been a number of exciting developments regarding children’s books about art. I have had the great opportunity of reviewing many art books for Armadillo, encouraging young people to explore the world of art as well as develop their own artistic talent.

Old Masters Rock. How to look at art with children by Maria-Christian Sayn-Wittgenstein Nottebohm (Pimpernel Press) has been a particular favourite of mine in 2017 (see the summer edition of Armadillo). In addition a number of publishers have teamed up with specific institutions, showcasing the UK’s great national collections with international renown.

Nosy Crow has been collaborating with the British Museum to produce a number of books for children since 2015. Just published is Mixed-Up Masterpieces: Funny Faces. The book reproduces twenty faces that can be found in the British Museum in the format of Alex Scheffler’s Flip Flap books. It promises hours of fun for children aged 3+ who can mix and match faces as well as recreate the correct face. In addition there is an index and QR reader at the back allowing parents to find out more about each piece. Other books from this pairing include the British Museum First Concepts series reviewed in the summer edition of Armadillo.

Hachette Children’s Group have published Paul Thurlby’s fourth book inspired by the National Gallery’s collection: A is for Art.

It is an alphabet book, including many of the collection’s greatest masterpieces such as my favourite, Rousseau’s Surprised!, which is brilliantly illustrated by Paul Thurlby accompanied by clear, accessible text. The book begins with a useful timeline of the history of painting from around 38,000 BCE moving to a contemporary piece by Paul Thurlby. Other books in the series include The Masterpiece Colouring Book, The Great Art Activity Book and Picture this! A Kids’ Guide to the National Gallery (as reviewed in Armadillo’s autumn edition).

These books offer a great introduction to art and specifically to these collections. Should you be travelling to London this Christmas there is something special about seeing this art in context and with your own eyes. If not, then consider making time to take a virtual tour as a family, searching the collections of these institutions by paying an online visit to the British Museum or the National Gallery.

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