Title: The Art Collector
Author: Jan Wahl
Illustrator: Rosalinde Bonnet
Publisher: Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 2011
Genre: Picture book, fiction
Audience Age: 5-9
Themes/topics: art, art collecting, being true to oneself, self-esteem
Opening Sentences: When Oscar was very, very, very small, Great-Granny took a piece of paper.
Synopsis: Oscar’s Great-Granny is an artist. When Oscar tries to emulate her drawings and paintings, he falls far short. Instead of being down on himself for not having artistic talent, he becomes an art collector and starts bringing home art from art shows, flea markets, wherever he can find it. This becomes a lifelong joy for him.
Why I Like this Book: It underlines the affirming fact that just as music needs listeners as well as performers and theatre needs an audience as well as actors, art needs collectors as well as those who produce artworks. I appreciate that Oscar doesn’t let his less-than-stellar artistic efforts define or defeat him, but he finds his own way to enjoy art.
Activities/Resources: A child’s art collection could start as simply as cutting pictures from a magazine and framing them in inexpensive frames to decorate the child’s room. A next step might be to visit an art gallery, and its gift shop, and find a greeting card or print of an artwork that appeals to the child, allow the child to purchase it (preferably with the child’s own money) and frame it.
Some art galleries, like the Seymour Art Gallery in Vancouver, have art shows and sales specifically for children (the Seymour’s is for under 16 years of age).
The Mercer County Library’s “The Art of Reading” program has numerous suggestions for interesting children in art and art collection.
Artist Natasha Wescoat gives several ideas for raising young art collectors.
Availability: Readily available in hardcover.
Every Friday, bloggers join together to share picture book reviews and resources, thanks to author Susanna Leonard Hill’s brainchild, “Perfect Picture Book Fridays.” Susanna then adds the books (and links to the reviews) to a comprehensive listing by subject on her blog. Find the entire listing at her “Perfect Picture Books.”