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Seen Art?

Seen Art?

by Jon Scieszka, Lane Smith (Illustrator)

It all started when I told my friend Art I would meet him on the corner of Fifth and Fifty-Third.
I didn't see him. So I asked a lady walking up the avenue, "Have you seen Art?"
"MoMA?" asked the lady.
"Uh . . . no, he's just a friend."
"Just down Fifty-Third Street here. In a beautiful new building. You can't miss it."

When this


It all started when I told my friend Art I would meet him on the corner of Fifth and Fifty-Third.
I didn't see him. So I asked a lady walking up the avenue, "Have you seen Art?"
"MoMA?" asked the lady.
"Uh . . . no, he's just a friend."
"Just down Fifty-Third Street here. In a beautiful new building. You can't miss it."

When this address turns out to be the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, confusion and hilarity ensue. As the narrator continues looking for Art inside MoMA, he is introduced to well-known pieces of art such as Van Gogh's The Starry Night, Matisse's The Red Studio, as well as works by Picasso, Klee, Lichtenstein and others.
In a dynamic collaboration that features comical text and playful illustrations alongside full-color reproductions of the artwork, Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith give readers the perfect companion for a visit to MoMA, and an introduction to some of the world's best works of modern art.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It all started when I told my friend Art I would meet him on the corner of Fifth and Fifty-Third," says the narrator of this homage to the redesigned Museum of Modern Art. The boy naively asks pedestrians if they have seen his friend Art, and when everyone quizzically replies, "MoMA?," he decides this "must be a secret code word." He follows their directions into a glass-and-concrete building, where he's directed through the galleries by patrons with varying definitions of "Art." Along the way, readers glimpse actual MoMA highlights, reproduced in miniature on the narrow, horizontally oriented pages by Scieszka and Smith (most recently paired for Science Verse). The boy eyeballs Van Gogh's Starry Night, then goes on a whirlwind non-chronological tour from Magritte and Dali to Klee and Calder, from Meret Oppenheim's fur teacup to Dorothea Lange's photograph Migrant Mother; he even sits on a Verner Panton chair ("Ahem. No sitting on art," says a museum guard). The narrator-a budding critic with a squiggle of hair and dots for eyes-complains that the iconic objects are "Not exactly the Art I was looking for." But by the end, his eyes look like saucers and he wears a dizzy, dazzled grin. The book design ranges from honey-toned cosmetic-counter hues to elegant grays to collage cacophony, suggesting the many moods inspired by such an overwhelming selection. The Art joke wears a bit thin, but MoMA admirers and The Stinky Cheese Man fans get a package deal. All ages. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
"It all started when I told my friend Art I would meet him on the corner of Fifth and Fifty-third . . . I didn't see him. So I asked a lady walking up the avenue, 'Have you seen Art?'" From this simple dilemma, Scieszka and Smith take the reader on a humorous, enlightening and delightful tour of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. Marvelously inventive characters point the way for the boy in search of his friend, but instead of Art, the boy finds color and emotion (Munch), a lot of red in one painting (Matisse), ants attacking a gold watch in another (Dali), composition and atmosphere (Hopper), and art that is puzzling playful, provocative and powerful. Younger children may actually learn what some of these words mean by looking at the art and the expressions of both the boy and his "guides." At the end, after the boy finally connects with the Art he had been seeking all along, the MoMA art is identified by title, artist and a miniature reproduction. This captivating introduction to Art and MoMA is both silly and serious. It could be used with a wide range of ages or just as an excellent book to read in preparation for a museum trip to New York. 2005, Viking, Ages 6 up.
—Karen Leggett
School Library Journal
Gr 3 Up-The collection at the recently re-opened Museum of Modern Art in New York City forms the framework for this cheeky foray into contemporary art appreciation. While trying to find his friend in Manhattan, a boy asks a passerby, "Have you seen Art?" and sets off a chain of events that propels him through the museum on an unexpected journey of artistic discovery. Once inside, every variation of his "where is Art?" request compels helpful museum-goers to respond in a more esoteric fashion as each visitor briefly introduces the works of his or her favorite contemporary artist to the narrator. After a thorough, eye-opening tour, the boy finds himself back where he started. But now when he is asked, "Did you find art?" he resoundingly replies, "YES!" And, on the final page, he does; Art is waiting for him outside the museum doors. The unusually long and narrow shape of the book and the stylized characters echo the modern-art theme while the muted background tones are an effective foil for the well-reproduced if sometimes diminutive artwork. The hip, first-person narrative is deliberately repetitive but becomes somewhat tiresome as the book's length appears to be determined more by providing a broad overview of the museum's holdings than by a compelling plot. Pair this with Anthony Browne's The Shape Game (Farrar, 2003) before a museum visit or as part of an art appreciation unit. For anyone planning a trip to MoMA with a youngster, this is a provocative read.-Carol Ann Wilson, formerly at Westfield Memorial Library, NJ Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A child goes to the Museum of Modern Art looking for his friend Art, but finds lots of art instead. Compared to the zany antics of its predecessors, this offering is positively restrained. Once the appropriately minimalist collage-and-scribble child enters MoMA, an array of artsy types guides him past works by Van Gogh, Matisse, Dali, Warhol and Monet, among others, offering such helpful commentary as, "Isn't it just everything?" and, "Great atmosphere." Background, characters and typeface presented almost exclusively in a washed-out beige-and-taupe palette, cause the reproduced art to leap off the page. The unusual shape (twice as long as it is high, unopened) adds to a sense of infinitely recessing galleries as our hero vainly searches for Art. When, at last, he finds him, he leaves MoMA with a sense of art-and so will readers, although they may not quite know it. While this effort lacks the clarity of presentation of such recent works as Quentin Blake's Tell Me a Picture (2003) and Anthony Browne's The Shape Game (2003), its enigmatic treatment suits its modernist subject and teases readers with possibilities. (notes on art represented not seen) (Picture book. 7+)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 11.50(h) x 0.45(d)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Multiple award-winning author Jon Scieszka grew up in Flint, Michigan, the second oldest and the nicest of six boys. Jon went to school at Culver Military Academy in Indiana where he was a Lieutenant; Albion College in Michigan where he studied to be a doctor; and Columbia University in New York, where he received an M.F.A. in fiction. He taught elementary school in New York for ten years in a variety of positions. He is the author of many books for children including the New York Times Best Illustrated Book The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (illustrated by Lane Smith), the Caldecott Honor book The True Story of the Three Little Pigs (illustrated by Lane Smith), and Math Curse (illustrated by Lane Smith).  In addition to his work as an author, Jon also runs a web-based literacy program called “Guys Read” that is designed to encourage boys, particularly reluctant readers, to get involved with books. In 2008, Jon was named the country’s first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, a joint effort of the Library of Congress and the Children’s Book Council. During his two-year role as Ambassador, he acted as a spokesperson for children’s literature, speaking to groups of parents, teachers, and children to encourage the importance of reading. You can visit Jon online at www.jsworldwide.com.

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