Circles and squares! Squiggles and wiggles and stripes! When Jansen the mouse discovers the art of such greats as Picasso, Matisse, and Warhol, the bright, bold colors and shapes capture her imagination and spark her creativity. Join Jansen on a colorful tour of contemporary art in this new work from an acclaimed author and illustrator.


Mousterpiece is a Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Book of 2012

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Circles and squares! Squiggles and wiggles and stripes! When Jansen the mouse discovers the art of such greats as Picasso, Matisse, and Warhol, the bright, bold colors and shapes capture her imagination and spark her creativity. Join Jansen on a colorful tour of contemporary art in this new work from an acclaimed author and illustrator.


Mousterpiece is a Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Book of 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Janson, a mouse who looks a little like Arthur’s sister D.W., lives in a museum and paints a string of homages to modern artists before creating, on the last page, a dreamy “mousterpiece” that signals her attainment of true artist status: “he did it her own way. In her own style. Unlike anyone else’s.” Most of the pages, though, are devoted to sweet-tempered parodies of modern artists: Janson does mouse versions of Josef Albers, Frank Stella, Chuck Close, and many others, adding a mouse face to a Warhol can of soup and subtracting a mouse-shaped white space from a spattered Pollack. Since children won’t necessarily be familiar with the artists, Zalben’s story offers an opportunity for adult-child discussions; an afterword provides sketch biographies of the artists Janson imitates, although the accompanying thumbnails only show Zalben’s (Baby Shower) parodies once again, not the originals. (Also, 22 artists, and not a single woman.) Best used in combination with outside resources that allow for a fuller understanding of the artwork presented. Ages 3–7. Agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown, Ltd. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
“In this particular world, everyone knows that mice, as much as any other rodents, enjoy scampering around kitchens scaring the heck out of people, but what they really like to do is make art….Janson, the mouse in Jane Breskin Zalben’s ‘Mousterpiece’ (named after the art historian H.W. Janson), has the advantage of living in an actual art museum, ‘tucked into the corner of a room filled with beautiful old furniture.’”—New York Times


"A charming introduction to modern art and an inspiring starting point for young art students.”—Booklist, starred


"...a terrific springboard for aspiring young artists everywhere.”—School Library Journal


"The joyful clarity of both vision and execution thrills.”—Kirkus, starred


"sweet-tempered parodies of modern artists…offer an opportunity for adult-child discussion…”—Publishers Weekly

School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—Janson the mouse lives in an art museum where she roams freely after all the visitors leave. When she happens upon the modern wing, she is mesmerized. Paintings by Picasso and Matisse, Munch and Pollack, Van Gogh and Warhol spark her creative talents and she emulates them all. When the wing is closed for renovation, Janson is bereft. How will she live without these amazing paintings? Rather than leave the space empty, she paints and paints until the room is once again filled with art. The museum director happens upon her work and mounts a show for her. As with all art shows, some people like it and others don't. In the end, she has grown as a painter and developed a style of her own. Zalben's simple, unfussy cartoons are engaging and fanciful, filled with clever and telling detail. This is an engaging book built around some of the great artists of the 20th century and introduces children to their signature styles. It has a wonderful, inspiring story; marvelous illustrations; and back matter that connects them all. Mousterpiece is a terrific springboard for aspiring young artists everywhere.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Who needs a cookie? Give a mouse a paintbrush! Janson lives in a museum, in a cozy corner with a pillow and a rose-speckled blanket. One day, she stumbles upon something new, "and her little world opened." Striding across a gray page, with a soft white glow around her figure to show energy, Janson emerges into a white background and finds--art! Immediately entranced, this self-possessed, humble rodent sets to work copying the masters. A grid of pop-art self-portraits (Janson's face, with her tenderly expressive eyebrow angle) pays homage to Andy Warhol's Marilyn series; Janson reclining in a jungle recalls Rousseau; Janson's snout, elongated and triangulated into cubism, echoes Picasso. Each clean, white page centers Janson at work; an occasional wall angle, easel or dropcloth nimbly enhances the minimal composition. Janson's gray body and striped skirt are warm hues of low saturation, sending focus to the colors within her artwork: Campbell's red soup can with mouse face, à la Warhol; blues and yellows for van Gogh's Starry Night; primaries for a geometric Mondrian mouse and a Munch mouse Scream. When museum renovation bars Janson from the art wing, she weeps, truly bereft, then forges ahead, painting from memory and defining her own style. Discovery and an exhibit follow. Janson's climactic mousterpiece features canvas texture showing through the paint, honoring her beloved medium. The joyful clarity of both vision and execution thrills. (notes on 22 artists referenced) (Picture book. 3-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596435490
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication date: 8/21/2012
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 707,431
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.60 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Breskin Zalben has created more than forty books for children, and her art has been shown at galleries and museums across the country. When she isn't painting, she loves to cook and garden. Ms. Zalben lives on Long Island with her husband Steven.

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