Tag Archives: books

Holiday Shopping List 2012

With Thanksgiving a delicious, but increasingly distant memory, the holidays are now upon us! One of my {many} favorite holiday childhood memories is of watching the holiday TV specials—Frosty the Snowman, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and of course Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Do you remember Hermey, the elf who runs away from the North Pole because he wants to be a dentist? I like to think that perhaps he isn’t the only one and that there are elves working for Santa who dream of being firefighters, teachers, accountants, and even artists. So with Cyber Monday upon us, I’m stepping into my role as an art-loving elf and sharing some of my gift ideas for 2012.

For the littles (ages 2-4):

It’s nearly impossible to choose just one thing from the Mama May I shop, because everything is so beautiful, simple and well-made. The toys are open-ended, colorful, and inviting. Pair these counting acorns with the color sorting bowls for dramatic play, color recognition, sorting, and counting.

This Charley Harper take on the classic children’s puzzle not only introduces young children to the work of an American modern artist but also spans the breadth of the living world—mammals, insects, fish, amphibian and even a mollusk!

For the big kids (ages 5-8):

Painting has never smelled so good! GLOB’s natural paint set uses fruits, vegetables and spices to add color and scent to your child’s masterpieces.

When a Kiwi Crate arrives in the mail, you’ll be guaranteed hours of fun and exploration. Themed crates are filled with art materials, creativity sparks, science experiments and more. And with a monthly subscription, this is the gift that will keep on giving!

For the biggest kids (ages 9-12):

This isn’t your grandfather’s duct tape! With bright, modern prints and your child’s imagination, the possibilities are endless for what you can make with this Kid Made Modern Duct Tape Kit. I gave this to my nephew for his birthday, and he immediately tore into it with all kinds of ideas for things that suddenly needed tape. (And in a pinch, you can probably borrow a bit to tape up those boxes for the post office).

“Don’t worry about mistakes. Making things out of mistakes, that’s creativity.” Peter Max’s words set the tone for what Make Art Mistakes is all about—doodling, playing, imagining, creating. Quotations from artists mix with sketching and writing prompts, art concepts and mini-art lessons in this creativity sketchbook for budding artists. Pair this with a set of colored pencils and you have a great gift for the kid on the go.

Happy gift-giving!

Posted by: Leah

**All recommendations are purely my own!**


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Filed under 6 to 12 year olds, Babies & Toddlers, PreK

A Peek at Our Book Shelves

When I was in 5th grade, I wanted to be a children’s librarian when I grew up. The library was one of my favorite places to visit, and I couldn’t imagine a better job—being surrounded by books all day! I’m not sure exactly when I changed my mind and decided I wanted to be a teacher instead, but I still feel like I have a librarian’s heart hidden inside me. So it should probably be no surprise that I look for any opportunity I can to use children’s books as I teach art classes here at the museum. Young children (and let’s face it—us “older children” as well) love a good story, and books are a great way to spark their imaginations and begin conversations in front of a work of art.

Here are of some of the newest additions to our book shelves along with works of art here at the museum that makes a good pair.

“Bed,” Crawford Riddell, c. 1844, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of three anonymous donors, Friends of the Decorative Arts Fund, General Acquisitions Fund, Discretionary Decorative Arts Fund, and the Boshell Family Foundation

The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas by Tony Wilson

Henrik the prince wants to fall in love and get married. But all the real princesses he meets are much too sensitive—so sensitive that they can feel a single pea underneath twenty mattresses! So Henrik devises a plan to find a different sort of princess. He hides an entire bag of frozen peas underneath one thin mattress and a sleeping bag. Will he find true love?

This playful take on a fairy tale classic is a perfect story to read in front of the Gothic bed on Level 4. Although this bed was made for a would-be president and not a princess, you can still imagine with your child what it might feel like to sleep on this bed.

“Persian Letters,” Rene Magritte, 1958, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of J. B. Adoue, III

Magritte’s Marvelous Hat by D.B. Johnson

Magritte the painter sees a marvelous hat one day in a store window, but when he tries it on, the hat pops off his head and floats above him in the air! This suits the painter just fine, and he discovers that this marvelous hat seems to make his paintbrush jump to life. When the hat blows away one day, Magritte fears that he will never be able to paint his wonderful paintings again. Johnson’s illustrations are not to be missed—Magritte is imagined as a serious dog and small details scattered through the pictures wryly allude to some of the artist’s best-known works.

This would be the perfect storytime companion for the painting Persian Letters by René Magritte which you can find in the European Painting and Sculpture galleries on Level 2.  This book is also a great introduction for young children to the idea of surrealism. As you look at both the picture book and the painting, search for more ordinary objects in unusual circumstances.

“Waffle server,” c. 1880, Gorham Manufacturing Company, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Dr. and Mrs. Dale Bennett

Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Spoon has a very large family—from the exotic Chopsticks to the black sheep Spork, everyone seems to have it better than Spoon. Knife gets to cut and spread; Fork goes practically everywhere. Spoon’s mother tries to cheer him up by pointing out all the things he can do that the others can’t, until finally he feels better. My favorite thing about this book is the characters—the illustrator takes ordinary utensils and transforms them into an unbelievably darling family with hilarious facial expressions.

Take a copy of Spoon along with you on a visit to see the museum’s amazing silver collection on Level 4. You’ll find all manner of unusual utensils—ice cream knives, sardine forks, a waffle server—that can easily be turned into a new story about this “family” at the museum. Or, talk with your child about what it would be like to eat a fancy dinner with all these utensils.

“Orange, Red and Red,” Mark Rothko, , 1962, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated

Perfect Square by Michael Hall

Square is feeling just fine with its four straight sides and four sharp corners, until one day, it gets cut into pieces and poked full of holes. Suddenly it isn’t perfect anymore! Luckily, Square bounces back and transforms its new self of scattered pieces and lots of holes into a fountain. Each successive day, something new happens—Square is torn, snipped, wrinkled, shredded. And each time, it finds a way to become something new. I’ve used this book multiple times as a way to talk about creativity—how one idea can be transformed into all sorts of new ideas.

In the galleries, Perfect Square pairs nicely with Mark Rothko’s Orange, Red and Red. Ask your child which part of the story this painting reminds them of and what kind of feeling the painting gives them. Is it happy, sad, lonely, calm? What different feelings did Square have in the story?

I’m always on the look-out for good books to have here at the DMA. If you have a great art/book combination, please share it with us in the comments!

Posted by: Leah

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Filed under In the galleries, Just for Fun, Parents, PreK

Friday Photo

Where are the wild things? At the Dallas Museum of Art, of course! This week in our Arturo’s Art and Me class, we spent time looking at a Roman mosaic that told the story of Orpheus taming wild animals with his lyre music. Then, we read Maurice Sendak’s popular children’s book Where the Wild Things Are. We challenged our class to act like wild things, and we got some pretty impressive results. See below:

posted by: Jackie

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Friday Photo

Caldecott-winner Jerry Pinkney reads to a captivated audience

I think we can safely say that the first annual BooksmART festival last Saturday was a huge success! It was so fun to have the museum filled with children and families who love books and love art. Jerry Pinkney read his version of The Little Red Hen to a group of children during story time in our pop-up reading lounge, and the kids were quick to discover that he had painted himself as the miller in the story!

Posted by: Leah

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BooksmART Countdown!

I’m not quite sure when exactly I fell in love with children’s books. It could have been when I was three, and my mom read books to me before bed. Or it could have been when I was ten, and devoured every Nancy Drew book ever written. Or perhaps it was in college, when I worked part-time in the university library for the children’s librarian. Whenever it was, the fact of the matter is that I love books and reading and especially children’s books. So would you be at all surprised that I am counting the days until our first annual BooksmART festival this coming Saturday?

As we’ve been planning the event for the past year, every time another author was confirmed for the festival, I’d gasp. Rick Riordan?! Jerry Pinkney?! David Wiesner?! All of these brilliant authors in the same place at the same time? It is going to be a very exciting day.

And what I especially love about the BooksmART program is that it not only brings authors and children together, but it also reminds us of the connections between literature and art. On Saturday, families can take special guided tours of the DMA’s collection and see works of art that might remind them of a favorite character in a story. Or you spend time in the studio, participating in hands-on art workshops with several of the author-illlustrators. Younger children can relax in our pop-up reading lounge and listen to stories read by the featured authors.

For the book- and art-savvy, I’ve created a little visual matching game to get you in the spirit of BooksmART Festival. Can you match up a book by one of our featured authors with a work of art from the DMA’s collection that best relates to the particular story? Here’s a hint: the stories to match are The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan, The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney, and Art and Max by David Wiesner. Good luck!

{Works of art in matching game from top: Coffin of Horanhk, Egypt; Cathedral, Jackson Pollock; The Peaceable Kingdom, Edward Hicks}

Hope to see you Saturday!
Posted by: Leah

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Filed under 6 to 12 year olds, DMA Programs, Kindergarten, Parents, PreK

Tricky birds, wild horses, and brave girls

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This weekend the Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection exhibition opened to the public and as part of our family celebration of the event, families heard traditional stories told by Amy Bruton Bluemel, a member of the Chickasaw tribe. She told tales of turtle and rabbit and coyote and had us all entranced. Later, as I caught my first glimpse of the many objects in the Thaw collection, her stories seemed even more real. Masks, blankets, baskets, pottery—all became storytellers in themselves. Of course the preschool teacher in me immediately started thinking about some of my favorite picture books, and how we could make connections between story and object. So here’s a peek into how my mind works!

Northeast Woodlands

When I used to live in Massachusetts, we could often spot lady slippers in May and June as we walked through the woods. The Legend of the Lady’s Slipper by Kathy-jo Wargin is a re-telling of an Ojibwe legend of how a young girl saves her village by running through the snow for help. The Ojibwe name for lady slipper means “moccasin flower” and it is said that the flowers remind the people of where the young girl lost her moccasins as she walked through the cold.

In the exhibition, there are is a beautiful pair of moccasins made by the Huron (Wendat) people. These shoes were probably never meant to be worn, but rather were created as presentation pieces. Beautiful embroidered flowers are meticulously stitched onto black-dyed skin.

The Great Plains

In this section of the exhibition, you can see a child’s saddle, a woman’s beaded dress, Black Hawk’s ledger drawings, and many more objects that tell the story of peoples who lived on the wide expanse of the plains. One of the most engaging objects is a horse mask. Made from trade cloth, glass beads, horsehair, feathers, silk, hide, and ermine, this mask was used to transform a horse for ceremonial parades. Zigzags around the eyes and a mirror that could catch flashing light would have certainly added to the horse’s powerful presence. Paul Goble’s Caldecott award-winning book The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses tells the story of a girl who has a powerful connection with horses. The illustrations echo some of the patterns you can see in the objects in this gallery.

The Pacific Northwest

Last but not least, we have our tricky bird the Raven. In this tale, Raven steals the sun from the Sky Chief in order to bring light to the people on earth. The illustrations in Gerald McDermott’s version are in the same tradition of form line design seen in many of the objects from this culture area. In the gallery, you can see Raven himself in the form of a raven mask. The mask made by the Kwakiutl (Kwakwaka’wakw) people would have been used in an initiation ceremony and dance. The powerful beak can even snap open and closed and it’s not hard to imagine raven flying away with the sun in his mouth!

Posted by: Leah

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Library/Museum Meet-Up

Do you have a bookworm in your family? As a child (and even now as an adult), my favorite way to pass the time was curled up on the couch with my nose in a book. I took books with me everywhere—piano lessons, long road trips, even to school, in case there was a free moment with no homework.

In our programs for preschoolers at the museum, we make a deliberate effort to link early literacy to learning how to look at art. For both, there is a connection between what you see and making meaning, whether it is recognizing that D-O-G carries the meaning of your favorite furry friend, or whether it is looking at the shapes and colors in a painting to see how they create an overall image. That’s why you will often see us in the galleries, reading a picture book and then looking at a work of art.

We often search for picture books that relate to a kid-friendly theme such as animals, weather, shapes, or snow. But I’ve also built up a collection of museum favorites—stories that take place in a museum—for all ages. So while there’s a chill in the air and it’s more appealing to stay snuggled up inside, why not pick up one of these museum reads? (And then if you are adventurous, come visit the Dallas Museum of Art!)


Jack in Search of Art by Arleen Boehm

On a rainy day, Jack finds himself outside a museum with a welcome sign reading “Come See Art!” Curious, he wanders inside and begins his search for Art. When he’s told that art is throughout the museum, the silly bear still doesn’t realize that Art is not a person. Young children will love that they are in on the joke while Jack continues his search. Full color reproductions of masterpieces are seamlessly woven into the colorful cartoon-like illustrations.

Early Elementary

Babar’s Museum of Art by Laurent de Brunhoff

The lovable Babar and Celeste decide to turn an old railroad station into an art museum to house their collection. On opening day, everyone admires the paintings and sculptures, which of course feature all elephants. Art-loving parents will chuckle at the elephant-themed take on famous paintings, while children learn that “there are no rules to tell us what art is.”

Late Elementary

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

Before there was Night at the Museum, there was Mixed-up Files, and to this day, I still dream of running away to an art museum like Claudia and her brother Jamie. The fact that they stumble into the middle of a mystery while at the Metropolitan Museum of Art just sweetens the deal. This works well as a read-aloud and would be the perfect lead-in to a visit to the DMA where you can make up your own running away to the museum story.


The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone

The Sixty-Eight Rooms is like a mash-up of Mixed-up Files; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; and the Bobbsey twins. Best friends Ruthie and Jack discover a magic key that shrinks them into just the right size for exploring the famous miniature Thorne rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. In this magical world, they discover a decades old mystery that links the past to the present.

Middle School

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

When a famous Vermeer painting goes missing, sixth graders Petra and Calder team up, resolved to follow the clues the thief leaves behind in the newspaper. Some have labeled this book as The Davinci Code for kids—puzzles, hidden messages in the illustrations, and the art itself will have readers searching for the answers right along with Petra and Calder. The two have even more artsy adventures in Wright 3 and The Calder Game.

Posted by: Leah


Filed under 6 to 12 year olds, PreK