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Childcraft: Art for Children

Posted on Thursday, October 15, 2009 in children's books

What colors would you like to use?

Masterpiece, the art auction game, is where I got my art education as a child. Any piece could be a forgery! So if an artwork wasn’t in the Art Institute of Chicago, the source of the images used in the game, I didn’t know about it.

It’s too bad I never noticed that I had this volume of reproductions of other pieces created by my favorite artists in the game: Mary Cassattt, Winslow Homer, El Greco. While the quality of color printing in this book doesn’t display any vibrancy, I think I would have enjoyed them anyway. I wasn’t particularly discerning as a child (or even now.)

paintWhen I was young, my much older brother was attending college studying art. The family made fun of him for this. It was not seen as any kind of legitimate study even though he was very talented and sold some of his work. A book like this one, encouraging kids to try all sorts of creative media, would have been a good alternative viewpoint for me.

I love it that the editors have included artwork by children in each section of the book. They are given the same amount of space and the same type of commentary as the artwork of the great masters. I can only imagine what it must have been like for the kid from Delaware with his or her collage of hay, coconut, and cotton featured on page 74. To open a real encyclopedia and see a piece of art you may have done for a school assignment there in print for the world to see must have been a rather heady experience. I think I’d be upset that my name wasn’t included since I’ve always been rather fond of my name. But I know I’d be thinking about how my artistic vision compared to Arthur Dove’s “Goin’ Fishin'” collage. I’d be busy that year making more collages and feeling pretty proud of myself.

Honestly, I should go through this entire book page by page and pay close attention. I haven’t heard of many of the artists included. I’m still limited in knowledge to what’s in my local museums. And I could use the reminder to look out my window and see shapes, colors, reflections, and light. The skill of observation is dulled, I think, as we age unless we actively engage it.

MORE on the Childcraft collection:
Poems of Early Childhood
Storytelling and Other Poems
Folk and Fairy Tales
Animal Friends and Adventures
Life in Many Lands
Great Men and Famous Deeds
Exploring the World Around Us

  1. At least from the time that I was eight, my mother read to me from Childcraft, almost every night. We read: Aesop’s fables, Kipling, All the Fairy Tale and poetry, but rarely anything that was reality based. Reflecting on this bit of personal history for the first time today, has righted a long overturned apple-cart.

    I browsed to this page looking for the “nonsense” poem, Tom-Tit-Tot.I still hope to find it,in its entirety.

    My mother’s favorite bedtime reading for me, the last thought in my mind were of “The Highwayman” (The landlord’s brown-eyed, daughter, Bess, sacrificially watches out and for her errant lover.

    I finally confronted her. If you read the poem, you will know why I wondered at my mother’s choice.

  2. I suppose it’s no stranger than reading Hansel and Gretal. Thanks for the comments.

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