Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Imagine! Book Poster Image
Wordless book celebrates art with magical trip to museum.

Parents say

age 2+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Museum of Modern Art. Three iconic paintings: Pablo Picasso's Three Musicians, Henri Rousseau's The Sleeping Gypsy, Henri Matisse's Icarus. Museums have a checkroom. Landmark New York City scenes and iconic experiences: Times Square, Central Park, Statue of Liberty, Cyclone roller coaster at Coney Island, Brooklyn Bridge, hot dog stand, subway, taxi. Building murals.

Positive Messages

Museums and art are fun and interesting. Kids can make art themselves. Kids can be inspired by the works of prominent artists. All kids can have access to and fully enjoy museums, and participate as artists.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The active, happy protagonist is a boy of color who lives in the city. He rides his skateboard across the bridge, actively seeking out the museum. He's entranced by the art there. He leads the figures from the paintings on a merry romp through the city. At the end, inspired by the artwork he experienced, he makes art himself, brightening his own neighborhood.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Imagine! is a wordless picture book by Raúl Colón (Draw!) about a boy who visits New York City's Museum of Modern Art and has an adventure with characters there who step out of paintings. The boy is a kid of color who might be Latino like Colón himself, and who rides his skateboard to the museum from Brooklyn. The mood is fun and spirited, using magic and fantasy to playfully poke holes in the stale idea that museums are drearily serious places. In this book, they're quite exciting.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written bycakimm January 3, 2019

Wonderful story that makes art dance

This is a wordless picture book with beautiful art both in how it is illustrated and as subject matter. My 3 year old enjoy the images and scenes of Brooklyn an... Continue reading

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What's the story?

In IMAGINE!, a boy sets off on his skateboard and crosses the Brooklyn Bridge to go to the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. There, he looks at three iconic paintings: Henri Rousseau's The Sleeping Gypsy, Pablo Picasso's Three Musicians, and Henri Matisse's Icarus. The figures in the artwork step out, and the boy leads them on a joyous romp through New York City -- through Times Square, riding the subway and Coney Island's Cyclone roller coaster, and up to the crown of the Statue of Liberty, culminating in a songfest in Central Park. When they return to the museum, the figures step back into their paintings, and the boy rides his skateboard back to Brooklyn, where he puts his own chalk to use on a building wall, making a mural directly inspired by the figures in the paintings.

Is it any good?

Joy jumps off the pages of this book, just as the characters pictured in the museum magically leap out of their iconic paintings. Imagine! effectively makes the case that museums need not be viewed as stodgy, out-of-reach places. In the author's note, author-illustrator Raúl Colón reveals that he himself didn't get to an art museum until he was an adult, so he's happy to swing open the museum door, inviting kids in.

Though the book is wordless, it has a well-crafted, engaging storyline. And the art's double the fun. Colón manages to recognizably depict the three actual paintings, while altering the figures just enough so they can dance and cavort through the streets of New York. The boy's a great role model. He looks so frothily happy, it's clear he's found his artistic home. And that box of colored chalk visible throughout in his back pocket? He puts it to very satisfying creative use at the end.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the paintings in Imagine! Do you know who the artists are? What does Raúl Colón say about them at the end? Why do you think he wanted to picture the characters stepping out of the paintings and having fun in the city?

  • Have you ever been to an art museum? Do you remember any paintings you saw? What did you like about them?

  • Why do you think the boy used his chalk at the end to draw a mural? How was he inspired by the paintings at the museum?

Book details

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For kids who love picture books and books about art

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