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Introducing kids to art

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"How to Talk to Children About Art" (Chicago Review Press, $16.95 paper) tackles what might be some highbrow stuff for kids age 5 to 10. However, the book broaches the topic in a simple, smart way.

"An interest in art - and particularly in paintings - is not instinctive in children," writes art historian Francoise Barbe-Gall. "So it's best to be careful in the way you approach the subject."

In addition to giving tips on doing just that, Barbe-Gall anticipates questions on more than two dozen pieces from such artists as da Vinci, Monet, van Gogh, Degas and Picasso, grouped in three age brackets.

It is here where "How to Talk" offers some unintentional humor in the form of possible questions from the youngest of the young. One work might elicit from 5-year-olds the comment, "It's just a scribble," while another may have them wondering, "Is this really a painting?" or observing, "She's completely naked."

Finger-painting pays off: "You'll be surprised how perceptive children can be about paintings. Their daily life is a world of images, and without realizing it, they will have learned all sorts of visual mechanisms that belong to the ancient tradition of painting."


(c) 2005, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

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