Museum Trip
by Lehman, Barbara

In this wordless picture book, a boy imagines himself inside some of the exhibits when he goes on a field trip to a museum.

Barbara Lehman has illustrated many books for children. Born in Chicago, Barbara attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where she earned a BFA in communication design. A full-time illustrator, Barbara says, "Books and art have always held the strongest attraction for me. I have always felt drawn to 'commercial art' because of its ability to reach many people. I like the idea of being part of the media in a meaningful and thoughtful way, especially with children as the audience." She now lives in Philmont, New York.

/*Starred Review*/ PreS-Gr. 2. Working in the same uncluttered style and wordless format as she did in The Red Book, a 2005 Caldecott Honor Book, Lehman offers another winning picture book that blurs real and imagined worlds. On a class trip to an art museum, a boy lags behind and becomes lost. While searching the galleries (filled with Lehman's skillful reproductions of the masters), he finds a series of labyrinth drawings, and in the following frames, he shrinks to a diminutive size and enters the mazes. Lehman uses inventive, shifting perspectives that combine aerial views with close-ups of the boy in the puzzles. At the completion of the final maze, a set of hands loops a medal around the boy's neck. The boy then pops back into the real world, but he finds the medal tucked into his shirt-a tantalizing suggestion that the adventure wasn't imagined. The sturdiness and clarity of the ink-lined, watercolor-and-gouache art juxtaposes wonderfully with the story's airy world of imagination. Some children may find the labyrinth scenes a bit repetitive, but Lehman's clever celebration of the fun and power found in art and daydreamed departures will easily draw an audience. For other fanciful museum stories suggest Anthony Browne's The Shape Game (2003). ((Reviewed April 15, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

Following on the Caldecott Honor-winning The Red Book (2004) is another mindbending foray into a wordless metafictive narrative. On a field trip to an art museum, a little boy stops to tie a lace and loses his class. Obvious alarm at the multiplicity of empty corridors branching out before him gives way to curiosity as he enters a small room with a display case of mazes-and then he's in the mazes, moving from one to the other with happy accomplishment until he is awarded a medal at the center of the very last. Lehman's two-dimensional line-and-color style adapts itself here to an Escher-like layering of dimensions-the little boy runs upright within the walls of a maze that's patently a flat piece of paper, complete with ownership stamps and creases. A reader who is tempted to consign his adventure to the realm of imagination will receive a jolt at the final image, which skillfully calls such a complacent assumption into question. It's a playfully subtle celebration of the possibilities offered by seemingly dry and dusty museums and, like museums, entirely worthy of several lengthy visits. (Picture book. 4-10) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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