There has been a spate of books recently that seek to encourage young children toward an appreciation of European painting by spinning pictorial narratives around well known individual pictures. Here Renoir, Klee, Van Gogh and Rousseau have had the misfortune to be chosen for the treatment. We begin with Renoir’s ‘The Umbrellas’. A small reproduction of the original painting is followed by a sequence that extracts one of the depicted ladies and her two young girls and speculates visually about what they might do next. Klee’s ‘The Twittering Machine’ is then ‘brought to life’ through a series of images executed in a facile imitative mono print style. Van Gogh’s beautiful ‘The Starry Night’ and Henri Rousseau’s enigmatic ‘Tiger in a Tropical Storm’ are similarly murdered as the author blithely demonstrates the difference between art and extremely bad illustration.
This book is deeply misguided in conception and very poorly executed. It should be taken out at dawn and shot.