Friday, March 13, 2009

Magritte's Imagination


Rubin, Susan Goldman. 2009. Magritte's Imagination. Chronicle Books.

For those parents dying to introduce surrealism to their babies--and really who doesn't fall into that category?--your wait is at long last over. Introducing Magritte's Imagination. The book uses eleven pieces of art by Rene Magritte combined with simple text by Susan Goldman Rubin. On the one hand, the text is simple and cohesive. It weaves all the pieces together into a story--a bit of a fantastical story grounded in the imagination over reality--but a story nonetheless. Here is how it begins: "All aboard! Choo! Choo! Where do you think we'll go?"

I'm not sure how practical the book is. Other books in the series include Andy Warhol's Colors, Counting with Wayne Thiebaud, and Matisse Dance for Joy. And though I haven't seen those, they sound a bit more practical. Concept books about colors and numbers? Sounds like it's reasonable for a board book. Dance? Well, babies and toddlers do like to dance. As soon as they can stand on their own, dance just happens. The moving and shaking is just too cute. So a board book about dance, sounds like it could work well. I'm just not all that sure about babies needing to know about the art of Magritte...to learn to imagine a world where "eyes and noses grows on trees and apples grow on faces..." I'm not trying to stifle imaginations and curb future artists-in-the-making. I just think a picture book might be a better format than a board book for reaching the best audience, the more appropriate audience.

I'm certainly not a baby. So I suppose that I could be wrong here. This book could have magical sway over babies everywhere. I'd have to see it in action--in the hands and mouths of babies--to know how wrong (or right) I was.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

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