10 December 2006

Book Review: Can You Find It, Too?

Sadly, I don't have very many art books for children, but I do have Can You Find It, Too? (Thanks Bonnie!), which showcases some of the amazing art at the Metropolitan Museum. It works like Where's Waldo, except that it isn't Waldo and the visual style of each scene differs by centuries, continents, and media. I love the variety in this book, and the things that you search for are surprising and perfect for little kids. In one image (probably 1920s) of the seashore, packed with families, children, and dogs, you get to find among many other things, the one and only dog on a leash. In another picture from the 1700s of a busy Chinese city there are very few children, but only two women. An ancient Egyptian Hieroglyph has only one falcon, but 22 eyes and 30 feet, and your job is to find them all.

If you read the reviews at Amazon’s website, you'll see that there are some who think a few images are too violent, and they are probably right. Beheadings aren't really for little tykes. But as a mom who unconcernedly handed this book to my children, who am I to judge?


Dad said...

Why would they put violent images in a book for children when there is so much art for kids that does not have violent images?

Josh said...

it's funny. for some reason, i think violence is, by definition, some kind of protracted struggle with physical harm resulting. death in and of itself doesn't seem violent. it could be the end of violence. but, aren't beheadings kind of free of struggle. you can't move around--you're tied up. there's a basket to catch the head preventing the distasteful task of looking for where it rolled off to. and, sure, there's that story where marie antoinette or someone asked a friend to count how many times the eyes in her decapitated head blinked. but, that's probably just a story perpetuated to scare kids into not subverting the republic.

but back to the topic. it's probably not appropriate for younger kids, but at some point kids will be initiated into the human experience. if they're lucky, they will only see violence in art and not in their homes and communities. remember the opposite of aesthetic is anasthetic-numbness. without art, the violence of human existence would be too great.

suz said...

i was just thinking how great it would be to use hieronymus bosch paintings for this book (esp. the garden of earthly delights), but as for appropriateness...

Mary Ann said...

Bosch's The Haywain is in there, Suz.

I actually think the picture of the beheading is kind of funny. It is from India, about 200 years old, and it looks like a cartoon. About as gruesom as Itchy and Scratchy.

I think Josh has it right--art provides a fairly safe environment in which to confront and grapple with uncomfortable ideas and realities. Unlike movies, you can take your time with a picture. You can view violence removed from cinema's desire to entertain. You can consider it carefully and singly.

And finally, what I love about the book is that the are isn't art for kids. Its art. I love trusting children with real world stuff.