'Arnold's Extraordinary Art Museum' is indeed extraordinary. From one bright yellow cover to the other, it is full of the amazing, the funny and the educational.
The story starts in the summer holidays when Arnold invites his friends to visit his art museum. To get there, they have to climb inside the fridge which houses the lift which takes them to Arnold's collection.
What follows is the children's reactions to a varied and unusual array of works of art. First up, canned poo. 'Merda d'Artista' was a work of art by Piero Manzoni composed of 90 cans of the stuff. Can 14 is in Arnold's museum alongside 'The Fountain' by Marcel Duchamp- a urinal which he turned upside down and signed! Having grabbed the reader's attention with the opening exhibits, Arnold continues to conduct his friends past works by Bellini, Klein, Picasso and Pollock amongst others.
The book inspires discussion. Each character is very different and brings a very different perspective to every piece of art they encounter. When looking at the Narcissus bulb bowl, Spike exclaims, 'But that's a broken pot, Arnold!' This reminded me so much of my son's reaction when he first saw the 'Mona Lisa'. 'What- that's it?' he cried, much to the amusement of all around us. The book reminds me of that- that you don't have to be impressed by works of art just because others are- you don't have to think like anyone else! It is a joyous exploration of the ways some artists have chosen to express themselves.
Alongside this, you learn so much. Arnold is full of nuggets of information which he shares with his friends. There is also a spread at the back showing the original works with a little information about each.
The format of this book contributes hugely to its success. A mix of comic book and graphic novel, there is an energy and enthusiasm about art conveyed by clever use of colour, cut outs and design.
A great way of introducing children - or adults - to art!
Arnold's Extraordinary Art Museum by Catherine Ingram and Jim Stoten
Laurence King Publishing ISBN: 978-1780678627