Your nephew Jeremiah loves to draw and paint, and loves experimenting with many methods and textures. You want to offer a gift of support, but you're not sure how a trip to the Louvre is too costly, and a paint set might have to accompany a gift of new carpet for Jeremiah's mother. What gift doesn't require a patron, doesn't require a showing, and doesn't make a mess on the floor? Why books, of course! If Jeremiah is really going to pursue this, why not enrich his art education with A Child's Book of Art: Discover Great Paintings (DK, $16.95, 0789442833)? Intended for children, this book provides a wonderful introduction to paintings and art appreciation, regardless of age. Author Lucy Micklethwait examines 14 paintings, all varying in period and style, and offers information about specific details in each painting. Micklethwait includes information about the subjects of each painting and brief biographical points about each artist. Most importantly, she asks questions to encourage readers to draw their own conclusions and interpretations. This book is an excellent choice for parents and children to share.

If you can't take Jeremiah to see the great painters, then bring the great painters to him via the Abrams Essential series. The Essential Rene Magritte (0810958031), The Essential Willem de Kooning (0810958112), The Essential Norman Rockwell (0810958244), The Essential Henri Matisse (0810958163), and The Essential Pablo Picasso (0810958201) are the latest titles in this series, available at $12.95 each. Very often certain artists may be deemed important, but the general public has little or no understanding as to why. The idea behind this series is not only to broaden the audience of the arts, but to educate this broadening audience on the importance of the arts. The series offers an overview of the artists and their work in plain, easy-to-understand language. Why is Picasso regarded as a genius? What's so great about de Kooning's odd paintings of women? For those of you who thought art lovers were merely townspeople admiring the emperor's new clothes, real answers to these questions can be found here. An interesting tidbit: Did you know that Norman Rockwell co-founded the Famous Artists School? Most of you are probably familiar with the Famous Artists School through their Draw Me! ads.

The name Walt Disney is practically synonymous with animation, but what sort of impressions did Walt leave with family, co-workers, and friends? Husband and wife Howard E. and Amy Boothe Green have collected these thoughts and compiled them into Remembering Walt: Favorite Memories of Walt Disney (Hyperion, 078686348X, $29.95). The photos and commentary capture a multi-faceted Disney who clearly opted for a hands-on approach to work, friends, and family. Thoughts on Disney's highs, lows, and milestones are offered by folks like Kurt Russell, Hayley Mills, and Karen Dotrice (who played Jane in Mary Poppins), to mention just a few. Other celebrities, family members, and friends recount images and events, and the photographs of Disney at home, work, and play show a genuinely happy, hard-working man. With a foreword by Ray Bradbury, readers will find Remembering Walt intimate and inspiring.

While animation certainly marries art with motion, there is a lot to be said for an illustration that moves without leaving its page. From Mother Goose to Dr. Seuss: Children's Book Covers 1860-1960 (Chronicle Books, $22.95, 0811818985) features a century's worth of artwork, from the ornately-embossed covers of the late 19th century to the busy, abundant covers that reflect (according to author Harold Darling) the busy, abundant postwar lives of the 1950s. Darling explores particular movements in each decade, and includes special chapters on themes, series, artists, annuals, shaped books, and back covers. This book makes a wonderful addition to any collector's or artist's library. And while you'll recognize many covers from your childhood, be prepared to contact your local rare bookstore for some of Darling's more unusual finds.

 

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