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9 Awesome New Art Books for Kids

A summer reading list for budding artists and art historians

Funny Machines for George the Sheep
By Géraldine Elschner; Illustrations by Rémi Saillard


Funny Machines for George the Sheep von Geraldine ElschnerIn this quirky text, George, a sheep, develops a condition that causes him to shrink to the size of a mouse when he gets wet.

To remedy George’s peculiar malady, his shepherd, Leo, creates a series of Leonardo da Vinci–inspired contraptions to help him stay dry.

They include an army tank, a set of mechanical bird wings, and an aerodynamic parachute. Will any of Leo’s machines keep George from shrinking?

Matisse’s Garden
By Samantha Friedman; Illustrations by Christina Amodeo
The Museum of Modern Art


Matisse's Garden coverFriedman’s imaginative book explains how Matisse began creating paper cut-outs. As the story goes, the artist was so captivated by the birds, fish, and plant life he saw on a trip to Tahiti that he replicated their forms using cut-paper shapes.

After many experiments, he realized that even the paper scraps and blank wall space in his studio could be put to use. Matisse eventually transformed his workspace into a whimsical paradise filled with paper silhouettes of exotic flora and fauna.

This book is being published in conjunction with Tate Modern’s current exhibition “Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs,” which will travel to MoMA in the fall.

Meet Matisse
By Jean-Vincent Sénac
Tate Publishing


Meet Matisse_600Also published to coincide with the Tate’s Matisse show, this title is both an introduction to Matisse and a rainy-day activity book. Matisse appears as the narrator, who shows children how to make paper cut-outs.

Over the course of the book, he teaches them to practice drawing the things they like, to paint paper in different colors, to cut shapes out of the painted paper, and eventually to create a colorful collage of their very own.

Emily’s Blue Period
By Cathleen Daly; Illustrations by Lisa Brown
Roaring Brook Press


Emilys_Blue_Period_borderAfter learning about Picasso at school, Emily rearranges the objects in her room so that they are as jumbled as the composition of a Picasso painting and wants to change her name so that it is as long as the Spanish artist’s (Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso).

But when Emily’s parents separate, she becomes sad and loses her interest in art. Then her teacher gives the class a lesson on collages made by Braque and Picasso, and Emily begins to understand that her family’s new arrangement is like a collage—complete and beautiful in its own way.

The Bunny Book
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

bunny book cover_600Illustrated with bunny-centric works from the Metropolitan Museum’s collection, this short but sweet book—which will be available in August and sold with a plush rabbit toy—demonstrates to very young readers how artists across the globe have depicted rabbits.

Featured works include a Chinese scroll, a Greek mosaic, a Central Asian textile, and a Dutch tapestry. The Bunny Book is the third in a series of animal-specific publications geared toward young readers.

Art: A World of Words
By Doris Kutschbach


7174_7175_Meine_bunte_Welt_Cover_Proof_rlOn each page of this beautiful and clever text, Kutschbach identifies one object or theme from a painting, sculpture, or drawing—the long hair of Degas’s Woman at Her Toilette, the touching fingertips from Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam fresco, the forest in Gauguin’s Landscape with Blue Tree Trunks, for example—and translates it into twelve languages, including Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Arabic, and German.

Through the more than 50 famous pieces presented here, which include works by Caillebotte, Hokusai, van Gogh, and Picasso, Kutschbach helps early readers grasp their first words and first works of art.

13 Art Movements Children Should Know
By Brad Finger


13 Art Movements Children Should Know von Brad FingerFilled with images, fun facts, and easy-to-read timelines, this information-packed text introduces young readers to art movements ranging from Romanticism to realism.

Like a survey for art-history beginners, the book sums up the historical context of each movement and the key figures who helped shape it. The Impressionism chapter, for example, describes the technology that allowed late-19th-century artists to work outdoors, and provides examples of iconic plein air works by Renoir and Monet.

Finger’s book is the 16th title in Prestel’s “13” series of early art books, which includes introductions to famous women artists, British artists, photographs, and art mysteries.

About Two Squares
By El Lissitzky; Afterword by Odile Belkeddar
Tate Publishing


Mise en page 1For the first time, El Lissitzky’s 1922 introduction to Russian Suprematism for children has been published in English.

Through images of six Malevich-inspired constructions, the artist weaves a cinematic narrative centered around two unconventional protagonists, a red square and a black one.

Readers follow the pair as they journey through outer space, dancing across each page and encountering armies of geometric obstacles and floating forms on their way to Earth. Lissitzky’s tale delivers both a cosmic adventure and a lesson in 20th-century art history.

Edward Hopper Paints His World
By Robert Burleigh; Illustrations by Wendell Minor
Henry Holt and Co.


edward hopperThis beautifully illustrated biography introduces young readers to the American painter Edward Hopper.

The story follows the artist through his days as a lanky, art-loving teen who was called “Grasshopper” by his classmates to his time as a starving artist living in a fifth-floor walk-up apartment in New York City. Despite setbacks, Hopper stays true to his passion, painting idyllic country homes, lush seascapes, and mysterious scenes of New York at night.

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