Museum Trip by Barbara Lehman tells the story of a young boy on a school field trip to an art museum exclusively through the use of pictures. Young children will love looking at the pictures as an adult explains the story, and children who are a bit older might enjoy telling the story themselves.
On the title page, we see students getting on a school bus with their teacher. The story begins with the students walking up the steps into a building that says “Museum” over the door. A man in a blue suit is there to greet them.
The nameless main character is at the end of the line, wearing an orange sweatshirt. One of his sneakers is untied. On the next page, he sits down on the floor to retie his shoe, as the teacher points out a landscape painting of water lilies. The paintings in the illustration are meant to suggest various masterpieces, but none are copies of known works.
As we turn the page, we see the little boy looking up to find his teacher and his class are gone. He has become separated from the group! Next we see him all alone, in the grand halls of the museum. His classmates are nowhere to be found.
The boy begins exploring the museum on his own, and he finds a small “secret” door. It is just his size. He opens it and walks through, and finds a low table display case featuring six drawings of mazes.
He looks closely at the first one, and suddenly finds himself inside the maze! He has been shrunk into a tiny person, so he can walk through the mazes. He jumps from paper to paper, finding the center of each one.
This part of the story dragged a bit for me. I would have liked to have seen fewer mazes, because they seemed a bit repetitive. It might have been fun for him to be in one or two of the paintings or sculptures as well. But children will probably enjoy seeing him in the different mazes. They could even try to trace the route he should take themselves.
In the center of the final maze, there is a tower. He cautiously walks inside. Through the keyhole, we see someone placing a gold medal around his neck, presumably for successfully navigating the maze.
In the next scene, he is full sized again, looking at the mazes in the glass case. Soon he finds his class and continues his field trip.
Was this all in his imagination?
On the last page, we see him leaving the museum, looking down at his gold medal. And the man in the blue suit from the beginning of the book is standing in the doorway, holding an identical gold medal around his neck!
This is a cute, mysterious picture book that would be fun for a child to look at before or after a visit to a museum. As noted above, it would have been nice for the adventure to widen a bit beyond the mazes, but overall children will definitely enjoy it anyway.