S is for Smithsonian: America's Museum Alphabetby Roland Smith, Marie Smith, Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen
From the Hope Diamond to Dorothy's ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, readers can take an armchair tour to the incredible exhibitions found in the Smithsonian Museum.
Children's Literature - Barbara L. TalcroftOn its wide landscape pages, this alphabet book introduces young readers to the complex of museums and galleries comprising the Smithsonian Institution. Each entry has a vertical band of information and a wider illustration for its subject (the inept rhymes for each letter could have been omitted). Some selections are intriguing, such as Y for Yupik, used to illustrate the scope of the National Museum of the American Indian, and P for Peacocks painted by James Whistler for the Peacock Room, which were moved intact to the Freer Gallery. Q and X, usually difficult to match, fall naturally into place as Quilt (for the National Quilt Collection) and Xu Bing, a Chinese artist who created a hanging sculpture for the Sackler Gallery of the National Museum of Asian Art. Others are not so inspired: E for elephant represents the Museum of Natural History; two munching pandas stand for the National Zoological Park. Visually the book is not uniformly attractive; although the paintings are big and bold, colors are sometimes jarringAmelia Earhart wears a lime green tunic as she stands before her scarlet Lockheed Vega. Juxtaposition of two entries in each spread makes for some awkward combinations, as when a segregated lunch counter with green and orange plastic seats appears face-to-face with an Egyptian mummy and hieroglyphics. The final two-page spread, however, a neat map of the Museum complex with buses and Metro stops marked, makes this alphabetical tour usefully informative for readers lucky enough to be visiting national museums. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
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