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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Gifted: Arlo’s ARTrageous Adventure!

Arlo's Artrageous AdventureArlo’s ARTrageous Adventures!
written and illustrated by David LaRochelle
Sterling Children’s Publishing, 2013

If you’re considering gifts for the holiday season … (book #1 in our series of Gifted recommendations) …

No matter how uninteresting Arlo’s elderly relative insists on making their trip to the museum with her warnings to be serious and quiet and not to touch anything, Arlo can’t help but find the opposite to be true. Everywhere he looks, something interesting is happening. Whether it’s laugh-out-loud funny (that oh-so-proper, be-ribboned admiral loves to swim in surprising attire!) or anachronistic (those husband-and-wife matched paintings have a twenty-first century way of communicating!) or ironic (that gold treasure chest, which I have decided is an automaton, but I’m sure you’ll create your own story), this is an engaging book full of surprises and delights.

As an adult, you’ll discover the homage to famous paintings and sculpture and movies and books (I found a Rick Riordan book) and even if David LaRochelle didn’t intend them … you can interpret the art any way you like. That’s the point.

Children will love sharing this experience with you, learning about art, and discovering the treasures in a museum. I don’t think I’ll spoil anything if I share a small secret: there’s a long-tailed critter on each and every page interacting with the art. As an adult, you’ll have as much fun hunting for that critter as your favorite child does.

I have always loved David LaRochelle’s illustrations. He is adept at capturing the emotion in a scene with a few adroit lines, good cheer abounds, and his palette in this book is so engaging that it’s impossible not to feel enthusiastic about going to a museum.

And, people, it’s a lift-the-flap book. Take some time to talk about this with your children. Imagine how each page had to be constructed so that the flap that opens on one page doesn’t interfere with the flap on the page that backs up to it. The layout of flaps that extend to another image had to be placed precisely. Ingenious.

This book is highly recommended. It will engage rambunctious readers as well as quiet readers. Ages 4 and up, adults emphatically included.

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