Anna at the Art Museum by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert

Anna at the Art Museum by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert
Publisher: Annick Press
Genre: Childrens, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (32 pages)
Age Recommendation: 6+
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Going to the art museum with her mom is no fun at all for Anna. Everything is old and boring and there are so many rules: Don’t Touch! Do Not Enter! Quiet! A vigilant guard keeps a close eye on the energetic little girl, but even so, Anna manages to set off an alarm and almost tip over a vase.

A half-open door draws Anna’s attention, but the No Entry sign means yet again that it’s off-limits. This time, however, the guard surprises her by inviting her to go in. Here she finds a “secret workshop” where paintings are being cleaned and repaired. Staring out from one of the canvases is a girl who looks grumpy and bored―just like Anna herself. With the realization that art often imitates life, Anna discovers the sheer joy to be had from the paintings on the wall, especially those that reflect what is happening all around her.
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Filled with representations of paintings from many world-class galleries, this charming book is the perfect prelude to a child’s first visit to an art museum.

Following the rules isn’t always easy.

Anna had an amazing imagination. I was impressed with all of the different methods she came up with to amuse herself while her mother was looking at what she considered to be old, boring paintings. Some of the best scenes were the ones where Anna tried to mimic her mom’s interest in this topic only to break one of the many rules that exist for people who visit galleries. The combination of her imagination and the broken rules often made me smile.

The relationship between Anna and her mother was such a lovely one. Anna’s mom had tried to prepare her daughter for this excursion, but it clearly hadn’t worked as well as she’d hoped. Her patience with her daughter as she explained the rules again was lovely. I also appreciated her attempt to introduce her child to art at such a young age.

This book couldn’t have had a better ending. I loved the way the adults responded to this character when they realized she was having trouble following social conventions at the museum. They clearly seemed to remember what it’s like to be a small child who is terribly bored and growing more frustrated by the minute. While I can’t go into any further detail about that without wandering into spoiler territory, their compassion made me want to read more about them and this character’s life.

I was delighted by Anna at the Art Museum and think anyone who will be going to an art museum in the near future should give it a try.

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