Review By CAROLYN M. MULLIN
In addition to its own aesthetic worth, art is a wonderful vehicle for investigating history, culture, mathematics, and science. But how does one teach art appreciation to little tikes? Through an “I Spy” tactic, author Lucy Micklethwait challenges readers to scrutinize masterpieces – from a myriad of styles, eras, and countries – for 20 different animals in I Spy a Lion.
While the book includes renowned painters such as Renoir, Picasso and Rousseau, what I find most intriguing is the subject matter and how children (and us adults too) will react to and interpret the animals’ presence in and their relationship to the work. Why does Queen Elizabeth I, as depicted by Isaac Oliver, have a snake on her dress? What is the cow in the red barn thinking in Peter Blume’s Winter, New Hampshire? Did Hans Holbein the Younger have something in particular he wanted to convey through the animals in A Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling?
If you find this book of interest, note that this is just one publication in Micklethwait’s “I Spy” art series. And for fun, fine art-focused activities and projects, have your kids explore the National Gallery of Art’s Kids web site.