Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Behind the Museum Door: Poems to Celebrate the Wonders of Museums

Behind the Museum Door: Poems to Celebrate the Wonders of Museums

Lee Bennett Hopkins
Illustrator:  Stacey Dressen-McQueen 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Harry N. Abrams, 2007   ISBN: 978-0810912045

Museums are extraordinary places; they are places that allow us to travel into the past and to better understand what the world was like long ago. For children, museums are also places where they can learn so much without having to be in a classroom.

For this wonderful poetry collection, Lee Bennett Hopkins has selected poems that explore museum related topics. In the first poem, we see a little girl looking up at a suit of armor. When she knocks on the armor, there is an “Echo of air” because it is empty, but the little girl cannot help felling that the echo is a voice from the past that is “drifting through / The lonely centuries.”

Then there are the two children who are contemplating and having a chat with the bones of a brontosaurus. They wonder if the huge animal was ever “in a dither / When your head and distant tail / Went different ways.” They have so many questions, but they realize after a while that having a conversation with a collection of bones is “hard.”

Another group of children discover that the tapestries on display in a museum give them a picture of the past. Carefully created by people who are long gone, the tapestries show “Tales of chivalry, cruelty, battles” and other scenes that connect the viewer with long ago human stories and experiences.

This splendid collection serves as a fitting tribute to the museums whose displays delight the eye, challenge the mind, and tickle ones curiosity. On these pages poems written by Jane Yolen, J. Patrick Lewis, Marilyn Singer and others give young readers a delicious taste of what awaits them behind museum doors.