School-age sojourners can tackle novels that inspire interest in their travels.
Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald is described by Amazon.com as “From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler meets Chasing Vermeer in this clever middle grade debut”. This description notes two other great middle reads (also on this list) and Under the Egg is worthy of the comparison. Theo Tenpenny finds herself adrift after the sudden death of her eccentric grandfather. His last words haunt her and promise hidden treasure but when she discovers a secret painting under the top layer of paint of one of her grandfather’s paintings she begins to question everything she knew about him. To solve the mystery will require skill, research, and several new friends. Perhaps the greatest treasure of all will be finding the truth.
Click It: Research Renaissance Art, Raphael, Monuments Men
Do It: Reinvent the life of a famous historical artist. Re-imagine one of your favorite paintings. What would you add to change the meaning or significance? How would the painting change if you took something out? What if you did the same with a family photograph or took a character out of a book? Do artists include every detail for a specific purpose? How does this impact your view of art or literature?
From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is the classic tale of Claudia and her brother, Jamie, who run away from home to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Their adventures teach them about themselves, each other, and what is really important in life. And there is a great art mystery that keeps readers turning the pages! For anyone who has ever wondered what it would be like to be in a museum after hours, for anyone who has wondered about the origins of the artwork hanging on the walls, and anyone who has felt under-appreciated. A true gem!
Trip It: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY, or any museum in your area.
Click It: Research Renaissance Art, Michelangelo
Do It: Orchestrate your own “museum getaway”. Create your own fictional (please don’t really try to sleep at the museum) version starring your child. From what you would pack, to what you would eat, to where you would sleep – plan out the logistical details of the trip, and the feasibility. Use maps from the museum (or their website) and choose a work of art to “star” in your story.
For anyone who has ever dreamed of stepping into a museum diorama! In The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone, Ruthie and her best friend Jack literally find the key to entering the Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. The catch? The Thorne Rooms are miniature dioramas depicting scenes from late 13th Century Europe to 1930’s America. So when Ruthie & Jack shrink down to size the adventures begin, across continents and time, as they discover that maybe they aren’t the first to visit the Thorne Rooms and that there is much to learn from the past.
Do It: Choose your favorite Thorne Room and write a one-of-a-kind story of your adventures! You may need to do some research on the time period, location, and roles of children. Be creative!
An art heist, puzzling coincidences, and a new friendship leads Petra and Calder on a mysterious adventure in Blue Balliett’s exciting novel Chasing Vermeer. When an original painting by Vermeer disappears en-route to Chicago the two friends find themselves unraveling clues to solve a crime that has everyone else baffled!
Trip It: Visit the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, where the Vermeer painting, A Lady Writing, is on exhibit or the University of Chicago, Hyde Park, IL, has several museums including the Smart Museum of Art.
Click It: Check out the Chasing Vermeer website to check out more about the author Blue Balliett, play games, and discover the other books in the series. ExamineA Lady Writing and The Geographer by Johannes Vermeer for yourself. Or to find out more about Vermeer the Essential Vermeer website is a good start.
Do It: Print your own set of pentominoes from the Chasing Vermeer website, paint your own “masterpiece” – look up famous works of art and attempt to recreate them with various art media.