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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2005
This is an excellent book for ANY teacher who wants to teach art and/or history. I have used the beautiful posters in my 2nd grade classroom to compare and contrast different artists, and to teach about American History (Winslow Homer's Snap the Whip).

I have 4 or 5 books by these authors and found the narratives easy to follow, filled with interesting facts, and engaging student activities.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2013
This book states on the cover that it is appropriate for grades 2 - 5, but it is helpful even for older students. I discovered this book at the library and the posters are missing, but it is easy to find images of each of the paintings on the internet -- so no biggie.

What I like best are the detailed questions for each painting, helping students (and adults!) look more closely and observe important details and nuances. The authors arrange the masterpieces in chronological order and provide a running timeline in the text: this helps place artists in a historical context. The text also suggests other paintings for comparison to the painting under discussion, which helps students learn how to compare and contrast as well as form critical opinions and discernment.

Here are the eight painters/masterpieces discussed:

Pieter Breugel (1525-1569), "The Peasant Dance"
Diego Velazquez (1599-1660), "Las Meninas"
Hokusai (1760-1849), "A Gust of Wind at Ejiri"
Winslow Homer (1836-1910), "Snap the Whip"
Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), "Le Moulin de la Galette"
Mary Cassatt (1844-1926), "The Boating Party"
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), "First Steps"
Romare Bearden (1911-1988), "The Piano Lesson"

You could plan an entire semester curriculum (18 weeks) of Art Appreciation using this book as a jumping off place. Checking out library books on each artist to provide additional reference material and spending approx. two weeks on each artist (and similar artists of the time period) would add up to 16 weeks. The first week of the course could be spent generally on the topic of 'art appreciation' with the final week a review week . . . or you could further explore Impressionism (Renoir and Cassatt), Cubism (Picasso), or 20th Century African-American painters (Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence, for example).

BTW: Bearden, awarded the 1987 National Medal of Art by Pres. Reagan, considered attending medical school and was a minor league baseball pitcher before choosing to pursue art full-time. Impressive and authentically 'all American.'

Finally, from the Teacher's Notes: "ACTION describes the eight paintings selected for this book. They all show people DOING things, such as dancing, playing, and boating. Paintings about ordinary people at work or at play are in a category called 'genre art.' A genre artist tells a story about his or her world and the people who live in it." (I just thought that was interesting.)
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