You Can't Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum
by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman. Illustrated by Glasser, Robin Preiss. Picture Book. 32 pages. Grades K-5.
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In this wordless book, a little girl holding a large yellow balloon and an older woman who is probably her grandmother are about to enter the museum when they are stopped by a museum guard. After considerable negotiation, the guard ties the balloon to a railing and the little girl and her grandmother are off to investigate all the treasures of the museum.
Almost immediately, the balloon is untied by a very clever pigeon who flies off with it. The guard and, eventually, many others follow in pursuit of the balloon. From then on we follow two trails: that of the balloon and that of the little girl and her grandmother.
There are many parallels in those trails as whatever work of art they are viewing is echoed, albeit with distortion, by the balloon scene. For instance, as grandmother and child view the statue of Perseus holding aloft the severed head of Medusa, the guard chases the balloon past a zookeeper holding a fish aloft for the seals with a similar pose.
The illustrations make good use of full color figures against backgrounds done with black and white sketches. The effect is to move the plot along while giving careful observers further information about where they are and what's going on.
This is a book to use with kids from kindergarten up for the fun of it and with older kids for the information on New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the work of the masters.
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