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Museum Trip
Format: HardcoverChange
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Let it never be said that picture book creators aren't stretching the very definition of what a "picture book" even is. Now Barbara Lehman strikes me as a uniquely gutsy woman. Here we have somebody who isn't afraid to create the occasional small masterpiece. Remember her Caldecott Honored, "The Red Book"? Or rather, the book within a book within a book? Well apparently the success of that little number gave her the wherewithal to go in a different direction with her follow-up, "Museum Trip". Recently on a children's literature listserv someone asked for children's books that could conceivably be said to use magical realism. If that person ever happens to want a little magical realism picture book action, have I got the author/illustrator for them!

A boy goes to the museum. Sounds fairly simple. But, you know, museums can be difficult places to navigate. And no sooner does our hero look down to tie his shoe than he is lost in a massive artsy space without his class. He pokes and prods about, finally stumbling across a small room without a doorknob. Inside, he finds a glass case containing six drawn mazes. He stares intently at the first one and before you know it the boy is within the labyrinth, navigating it from the inside. Each time the boy finishes one he races along to the next. Finally, by maze #6, he is able to reach a tower located at the center. Suddenly the viewer gets closer and closer to that tower's keyhole, through which we can see some unseen person awarding the boy a golden medal. The maze done, the boy is back in the room and he is able to quickly locate his class once more. As he leaves the museum, however, it's evident that he still has the medal affixed tightly to his neck. And even better, the curator of the museum watches the boy go while touching his own shiny medallion.

Now admittedly this wasn't quite as much fun as "The Red Book". But, to be fair, it's an entirely different beast. The fun of "The Red Book" was in the crazy bending of reality. "Museum Trip", does that too to some extent, but in a different manner. Some children may be perturbed by the loosey-goosey nature of the boy's unaccountable shrinkage. Others will go with it. The point of the book for me, in any case, was the mazes themselves. Though my little librarian heart shudders with the knowledge that countless library copies of this book will end up with significant crayon and pencil marks drawn in them as kids navigate the mazes, at least I can guarantee that the children will have a good time doing so.

For all her outward simplicity, Lehman isn't afraid to lay on the subtle references. When the boy enters the room of drawn mazes there is a small statue of a Minotaur seated on a pedestal. The book also has some fun details. If you look at the beginning of the book, you can see just the hint of the curator's medal hanging about his neck, beneath his jacket. Also, should you show this book to a maze-lovin' kid who yearns for at least one more, take off the cover of the book. On the hardcover edition of this title you will find one last rectangular labyrinth hidden and waiting.

So there we are. Wordless picture books like this one are generally useful for children who can't read yet or aren't familiar with a written language. Lehman's books bridge that gap and this one in particular may well find itself lumped in with countless "I Spy" and "Where's Waldo" titles. In short, it's the deepest game-related picture book I've ever found myself reading. Just keep it away from any six-year-old realists you happen to know.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
It's no secret that kidlets "read" illustrations, mostly by puzzling out the visual clues and piecing together a narrative, even if makes sense only to them.

There aren't any words in this book, so it's up to parent and child to decide what goes on as a boy in a red hoodie makes his way through a museum on a school trip. You follow that red hoodie off the bus and into a gallery with its sprinkling of recognizable masterpieces by Van Gogh, Matisse and many others.

The boy looks up after tying his shoe and his classmates have vanished. He wanders alone into a side exhibit of mazes and is suddenly transported into the meandering constructs. Here's where it gets murky -- is he imagining this, or is this a fantasy device?

Keep your eye on the hoody. The splash of crimson creates a visual trail of crumbs for readers, pulling our eyes along as the boy makes his way through the inky sketches on faded sienna parchents to a tower in the middle of the final maze.

Lehman brings us closer, closer, as we zoom in on the tower and the streaked, stained paper, until we peer through a keyhole to see a gold medal placed around his neck.

The perspective lurches back to reveal him standing over the exhibit, so the mystery remains intact. Did he really get a gold medal? Where is it? Keep your eye on ... well, you know.

And as the museum director waves all the kids goodbye, what's that around his neck?

Now go back and reread the thing, looking again at the director early on. And scout for other clues -- every new reading will yield ones you missed, but they're often in the how and not the what.

The figures are flatly drawn, and when the boy appears alone on an otherwise blank, white page, you're drawn to his expressions of surprise, confusion or happiness. The keyhole page is especially brilliant, as if we're peeking through our own world into the mysterious one of the maze.

When he's in the landscape, he becomes a small, lost figure as wings of the museum lurch out of view or staircases lead away from us, creating a labyrinthian space that echoes the mazes. Lehman uses perspective sparingly and with a handful of straight lines and angles, creating a sense of movement that keeps pages turning without bogging us down in detail.

Yet the story that Lehman draws is pleasantly complex and visually exciting, aiming at both adult and kid so that each one reads at their respective level.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Barbara Lehman [The Red Book] works her magic again in this offering. The lines between reality and imagination are blurred as a boy who is on a museum field trip finds himself lost. He comes upon a series of labyrinth drawings and shrinks and enters the mazes, before finally entering the real world again. Any kid who loves adventure [and which kid doesn't] will love this story. The illustrations too are wonderful and engaging.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A friend introduced me to Museum Trip and it's now my go-to-gift-book for children of all ages. The wordless adventure is accessible to kids young and old and the surprise ending sends them all back to the beginning again. Barbara Lehman's eye for detail astounds and delights: each page can be enjoyed over and over again. I can't wait to see what she does next!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2008
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The perfect book for my maze-crazed 7 year old who hates to read. High quality product. Would recommend a version with reading be created, I think the rest is so enjoyable, the kids would be inspired to try and read it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a wordless book about a boy who gets lost in a museum... but finds his way through several mazes in a book. The real question to ask is "Did this really happen?" I, as the grown-up who sees the medal the boy won for solving the mazes (and the one worn by the museum curator) say yes, weirdly, it did. My five year old niece, who can be very literal sometimes ("People don't really go in books, Connie!") says no... but I think she'll figure it out eventually.

She was fascinated by the mazes, btw, although I thought that sequence went on for a while.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
this is a wonderful adventure to share with your kids - it's a lot of fun, and unlike anything we've read or seen before.
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VINE VOICEon March 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In this word less picture book a little boy and his class go on a field trip to the museum. Along the way the little boy gets separated from his class. Follow the young boy as he explores the museum on his on and see what fun things he encounters!

The book has no words so the "reader" gets to make up their own story as they look at the pictures!

Great for the preschool age group! Lots of fun things to point out and look for in the illustrations!
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on April 9, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Very boring, little action for wordless book. For the price better books are available. I feel like I wasted my money.
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on August 20, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
My third graders love wordless book lessons...with an even playing field, all students are engaged! Barbara Lehman's books help keep my mini lessons brief and direct (which is not easy to do!).
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