• Grace McKinney

Review of the Day: My Art Book of... Series by Shana Gozansky

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

Picture books are often the child's first fine art museum.


I first heard this in graduate school, and it's been one of the most convicting statements in all my work with books for young people. Children deserve beautiful things! Why reserve fine art for when they're "old enough?" It's a disservice to children to say that books for them could (or should) be any less stunning than books or works of art typically reserved for adults.


Now, let's not take this too far—children, of course, should encounter artwork that isn't necessarily considered "fine," nor should we discount the skill it takes for illustrators to execute a series of art to create a dynamic picture book. There is always more space for a talented illustrator or artist to find a home in books for young people, and the lines that distinguish "fine" art could bear to be stretched a bit.


In short, we shouldn't be afraid to offer children the opportunity to engage with works of art. That's where this new board book series comes in.




Picture books are often the child's first fine art museum.

Shana Gozansky's board books stare head-on at naysayers arguing that fine art isn't for children. (I dare say I wouldn't want to come across one of those people.) Much like the Mini Masters series and the Art For Baby series, these books aim to put thematic collections of famous and fine artwork into the hands of the youngest readers. Unlike these other series, Gozansky's board books have the feel of a gift book from a museum exhibit; the cover is thick, textured, and gives the sense that there's a treasure inside. With text that links the images to each particular theme, these books provide an introduction to famous works and what we can see in our own human experience through them.





My Art Book of Love

by Shana Gozansky

Phaidon Press

ISBN: 9780714877181

$16.95

Ages 2 to 4

On Shelves Now





My Art Book of Love (2018) begins with a lofty statement: "Love is..." The proceeding series of images from centuries of artists collectively aim to fill in the blank. Klimt, Bonnard, Gauguin, Chagall, Cassatt, Frankenthaler, and Haring join the chorus of artists portraying love in all its forms and expressions. The text that accompanies each piece succinctly expresses a different facet of love itself: "Love is togetherness./ Love is always./ Love is sharing./ Love is a gift./ Love is for everyone!" From sister and sister, child and dog, and spouse to spouse, the vibrant collection of works of art provide a glimpse into the many ways we experience and share love for one another. My Art Book of Love offers a thoughtful meditation on the connection between love and artwork. The selected art mostly come from Western tradition and are largely paintings, though sculptures and prints do appear occasionally. Back matter provides details on each work of art included in the text.




My Art Book of Sleep

by Shana Gozansky

Phaidon Press

ISBN: 9780714878652

$16.95

Ages 2 to 4

On Shelves Now





My Art Book of Sleep (2019), per its description on the back cover, pays "tribute to sleep" with this curated collection of drowsy artwork. The subject matter may at first glance be a little less nebulous than the previous installment, but this collection tackles a wider perspective on sleep. (That is, not every work of art in this book includes someone snoozing.) Each section, succinct as those in the Love edition, begins with reflections—"If you don't sleep enough, you may feel..." and "It's bedtime when..."—that carry the reader all the way from the first yawn to the new dawn. The types of artwork displayed still lean largely painting-based, though this collection features some full art installments, like Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirror Room. A slightly more diverse group of artists appears in this collection, featuring artists such as Diego Rivera, Takashi Murakami, Jordan Casteel, Winslow Homer, and Georgia O'Keeffe. Though a looser interpretation of a theme, the simple text's pacing provides just enough for an art-inspired bedtime read. Again, back matter provides more details on each work of art included.



Though we have yet to get a glimpse at My Art Book of Happiness coming Spring 2020, we're eager to see where this series goes. It's exciting to see how many ways authors and publishing houses are getting beauty into the hands of young people, and Gozansky's books are no exception.


Source: Deborah Sloan & Co. provided these books for a fair and honest review.

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