Bob Raczka

Artful Reading
Bob Raczka
2008 (Millbrook/Lerner)

Artful Reading is a collection of paintings spanning several centuries and many countries with one thing in common: they all depict people reading. The text celebrates all the places you can read, how much fun reading can be, all the different things that can be read and more. The images are large and beautifully represented, so the details can be easily poured over. The text is great for reading aloud to a group or for a child just beginning to read by themselves. This is a very beautiful book that celebrates both reading and art.

The variety of paintings and styles is fantastic ranging from the abstract Picasso of two women persuising a book to the almost photograph-like Vermeer of a man reading maps. There are famous paintings as well as obscure ones, but all are interesting and stick to the theme of people reading. The text is simple, perfect for a child just learning to read alone, in a large, easy-to-read font with important words highlighted. More information is provided in smaller print in the back about each painting and artist, so that curious readers can learn more about any particular image that catches their attention.

Due to the format and theme, this book would be excellent in a classroom and could easily be used in an art or reading lesson. It’s images invite the reader to sit and stare at them, but the text reads well as a read-aloud or a beginning reader. I’d highly recommend this book for a classroom, library or curious child. It’s fun and the art is fantastic!

- Publisher’s Description

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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.

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- Book Blog: Thoughts
- Book Blog: More Thoughts

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Action Figures: Paintings of Fun, Daring and Adventure
Bob Raczka
2010 (Millbrook/Lerner)

- Publisher’s Description

- Book Blog: Thoughts

- Buy it from Amazon

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- Bob Raczka’s Website