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BOOK REVIEW - You Canít Take a Balloon ...

You Canít Take a Balloon Into the Metropolitan Museum, a lavishly illustrated comic book style childrenís book by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman and Robin Preiss Glasser, tells the tale of a young girlís visit to the museum while her balloon traverses the streets of New York City.

As the girl and her grandmother enter the Met, a security guard stops them at the door. He wonít let them in with a big yellow balloon. The girl looks at him sadly, hoping to change his mind. But rules are rules.

So he takes her balloon and ties it to the staircase railing, where she can pick it up when she is ready to leave. Just after the girl and her grandmother walk through the front door, a bird comes along and unties it! The panicked security guard begins to chase after it.

The balloonís adventure parallels the girlís museum visit on page after page. Real photos of masterpieces from the Metís permanent collection are sprinkled throughout the tale, which are mimicked in the charactersí actions throughout the city.

As the girl explores the museum, the security guard slides across the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center, crashes a wedding, and runs across the stage in the middle of an opera. As he chases the balloon, he picks up people along the way. Each scenario is complimented by a similar scene in a real painting or artifact.

Each page is magnificently illustrated with highly detailed panels. There is so much going on, children will see something different every time they open this book. Some of illustrations are full color, but most are black and white with important details fleshed out in color.

The book fails in one important respect. It does nothing to educate the young reader about the pieces of art included in the book. It would have been nice to have the artwork explained a little more. There is no narrative about the paintings and sculptures at all.

In fact, the only place the art is even mentioned is in a list in the back of the book, which only contains minimal information about the work Ė namely the artist, title, and donor. It is a missed opportunity not to include more context and art history.

Overall, the book is a fun read (even though there are no words!) and children will be amused by the antics of the balloon and the security guard. The photos of the art blend in very well with the illustrations Ė in some cases, a little too well. It will probably be up to an adult to point out the similarities between the storyline and the work of art highlighted on the page.

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