Lisa Doucet Reviews Anna at the Art Museum

Patient Museum Caretaker Unleashes Art's Power on Rambunctious Girl

Anna at the Art Museum
Hazel Hutchins & Gail Herbert, illustrated by Lil Crump
(Ages 4-7)

One look at the scowling face of the small girl on the first page of this book confirms that “Anna was not happy.” No matter how she tries to amuse herself at the art museum, the attendant is always rushing over to tell her to be quiet or be careful or not to climb on things. Even when she offers to share her snack with him, he firmly informs her that there is no eating allowed. Clearly there is just no fun to be had for a lively little girl who just wishes that somehow “the museum could be turned inside out. Or the world outside in.”

Then she spies a partially opened door. And just when she thinks the attendant is about to scold her again, he surprises her by arranging to let her visit this secret room, where she makes a wonderful discovery that gives Anna a whole new perspective on the art museum.

The creators of this charming picture book have crafted a delightful protagonist in young Anna, whose exuberance and frustration are immediately in evidence. (Adult readers will also sympathize with the attendant as Anna keeps him hopping!) 

The text is clear and concise, with short, succinct sentences that manage to captureAnna’s impatience and eventual wistfulness, as well as the attendant’s irritation.  

Haligonian Lil Crump’s playful and vivacious illustrations also bring these assorted individuals to life. Her cartoony characters are animated and energetic with vivid facial expressions. Each page is filled with motion and emotion, as well as with Crump’s impressive re-creations of numerous great works of art (all of which are identified at the back of the book). Together, words and pictures tell a warmhearted story of one young girl’s transformation when she unexpectedly discovers she can connect with art.

Written By

Lisa Doucet is the co-manager of Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax. She shares her passion for children’s and young adult books as our young readers editor and book reviewer.

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