Mayhem at the Museum: A Book in Pictures by Luciano Lozano. Penguin Workshop, 9780593093542, 2020
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Genre: Picture book
What did you like about the book? This is a wordless picture book in which a girl visits a museum with a group of other children. As she looks at the art, it starts to come to life, passing her a hat or a flower from the paintings. Soon the whole museum comes to life as the other children, and then adults, parade through the museum carrying parts of the art. As they travel through the halls, readers see real pieces of art, many well-known including van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat, Monet’s Bouquet of Sunflowers, and Degas’ The Little Fourteen-Year Old Dancer. A list of paintings is provided in the copyright at the end to reference. Though the message of the story comes across clearly through the illustrations, the sign in front of the museum also changes from “No touching the art” at the beginning to “The art touches you.” I appreciated the inclusion of diverse side characters, including children, museum staff, and museum visitors. The layout and background of the illustrations also appropriately portray the size and arrangement of museums.
Anything you did not like about the book. Almost all of the people in the pieces of art are white. While this is pretty realistic of many traditional art museums, and with appropriate discussion it would provide a good lesson for readers, it could continue to perpetuate the value of white culture in museums.
To whom would you recommend this book? This would be great to read in conjunction with visiting an art museum. I’d also recommend it to anyone who likes wordless picture books – between the illustrations and the art there are so many details to notice! Reading the book in quarantine now, I’m thinking that this book would be perfect to read and then bring a piece of art to life like this. Read-alike with Museum Trip (Lehman) or Visiting the Art Museum (Brown).
Who should buy this book? Elementary school libraries, public libraries, art teachers
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Sarah Bickel, Greenlodge Elementary School, Dedham Massachusetts
Date of review: June 30, 2020