Art by Patrick McDonnell

Thanks to its simple cover art — some paint splatter, and a boy standing just off-centre and writing out the equally spare title of the book, Art, in understated block lettering — you are refreshingly free from any preconceived notions about this book when you first open it. In other words, it kind of begins on a blank slate — pretty apt considering that is how all art begins.

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As it turns out, what we get is ‘Art’, but not entirely what you’d expect since that is the name of the exuberant and spontaneous little boy that we first saw on the cover, who loves to draw, paint, doodle… and basically create his own art. Naturally, the author’s choice of name for the protagonist is more than just a coincidence, and he puts the wordplay to good use in the clever text that not only doesn’t feel cheesy, but manages to break down art into its simplest forms and define it via personification in the form of Art, the boy — all in celebration of the enthusiasm that children naturally possess to express themselves via their own creations.

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While the illustrations depicting Art’s paintings and doodles are cheerfully pleasing to the eye, it’s conceivable that they are, in fact, created by a kid — which is to say that they are adorably ‘experimental’ and spirited, but art collectors probably won’t be knocking on his doors anytime soon! However, it is precisely this ‘I could’ve done that’ quality that little ones can relate to and be inspired by.

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The ending of the book is particularly sweet and highlights the importance of unwavering encouragement and support in the development of a child’s abilities. After all, every successful artist started out doodling and playing around with paint, right? Well, a mother can dream…

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