ALEXANDER STURGIS is an education officer at the National Gallery, London. He is also The Great Xar, a magician performing at the National Gallery and on television. His television appearances include The Big Breakfast, The Word and Tricks & Tracks, as well as introducing paintings to children on the BBC's programme Hartbeat. His previous books include Introducing Rembrandt and Magic in Art (both published by Belitha Press). This is his first book for Frances Lincoln. LAUREN CHILD studied Illustration at Manchester Polytechnic and Decorative Arts at the City and Guilds in London. Her previous books include Clarice Bean, That's Me which won a bronze award in the 1999 Smarties Book Prize and was short-listed for the Kate Greenaway Medal; Beware of the Storybook Wolves and I Will Not Never Ever Eat a Tomato, winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal 2001; My Uncle is a Hunckle Says Clarice Bean (all Hodder) and Margaret Joy's Addy the Baddy (Viking). I Want a Pet was her first book for Frances Lincoln.
Gr 1-4-Dan skateboards to a museum, and goes in to see paintings "-full of strange and beautiful things." While he senses that some had stories to tell, he realizes, "You can't read paintings like you can read books." A voice tells him otherwise: it's Fra Angelico's Angel Gabriel, who flies out of The Annunciation and accompanies the boy through the galleries. From Sandro Botticelli (whose sleeping Mars and watchful Venus show the power of love over war) to Pablo Picasso (whose weeping woman mourns the tragedy of the Spanish Civil War) and beyond, they use their eyes and their common sense to deepen their appreciation of the artwork. A dozen paintings are reproduced (all but two are European), all set against colorful backgrounds and peopled by Child's distinctively wonderful cartoons of children, adults, and a black-and-white cat. The visuals work a bit better than the text, though, since the premise lacks the authentic feel that characterizes the best flights of fancy. By comparison, Jacqueline Weitzman's You Can't Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum (Dial, 1998) seems a delightful bit of froth, but lacks the educational agenda of Dan's Angel. Interest in introducing children to fine art in an accessible manner is high, and this fun book succeeds quite well.-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
In Dan's Angel: A Detective's Guide to the Language of Painting by Alexander Sturgis, illus. by Lauren Child, the angel steps out of Fra Angelico's The Annunciation (1432) to help an amateur detective named Dan unravel the mysteries of an art museum. Dan explores the meaning and symbolism in 12 great paintings by a wide variety of artists, from Rembrandt to Picasso. Child's cartoonlike illustrations accompany reproductions of the paintings, each clearly labeled with title, artist, date and source. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.