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The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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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?
- Author: Raúl Colón
- Illustrator: Raúl Colón
- Genre: Picture Book
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Arts and Dance, Great Boy Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
- Publication date: September 11, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 4 - 8
- Number of pages: 48
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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