Book: The Vermeer Interviews

The Vermeer Interviews: Conversations with Seven Works of Art
Bob Raczka
2009 (Millbrook/Lerner)

I’ve always loved visiting museums and walking through the rooms, reading the stories hanging on the walls. I always wonder about the people in the paintings. What are they thinking? What just happened? Why are they doing whatever they are doing? Every painting is a story, a mystery. It’s a big part of what makes paintings so much fun to look at. A painting is a frozen moment, a piece of a bigger story. And why the painter chose that moment from the story and posed everything exactly as he or she did is a whole story in and of itself.

Bob Raczka knows all that and his book The Vermeer Interviews has the best format for inviting kids to look for those stories. In the book Razcka speaks directly to the subjects of seven of Vermeer’s paintings. He asks them about what they are doing and thinking as well as about details in the painting. What’s really interesting is that the subjects of the paintings in this book are aware that they are in paintings, so they can speak not only about their stories and about the historical details around them, but also about the artwork itself. They point out the painter’s techniques and discuss his life. They even talk about the galleries they hang in.

I’m impressed by how much history and how many facts about the artist and his style Raczka managed to pack into seven three or four page interviews. The book is dynamic and full of intriguing stories that really do make the paintings come alive. The interviews encourage the reader to not only think about each piece as a whole, how everything works together, but also to closely examine the details. The book manages to make you wonder if the subject in the painting might be humming to herself on the same page that it brings an easily overlooked cracked windowpane to your attention. The flow is consistent and the format is perfect for both storytelling and conveying facts. This is a perfect book for sharing art. I wish very much that there were more books in this format looking at even more paintings, artists and art styles. This would be a great book to share with kids in a classroom setting or just for fun and I highly recommend it.

- Publisher’s Description

- Bob Raczka’s Website

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