Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Dan’s Angel: A Detective’s Guide to the Language of Paintings

Dan’s Angel: A Detective’s Guide to the Language of Paintings

Alexander Sturgis
Illustrator:  Lauren Child 
Picture Book
For ages 7 to 9
Kane Miller Book Publishes, 2003   ISBN: 978-1929132478

Dan loves to be a detective and goes about with a magnifying glass in hand, looking for a puzzle to solve or a mystery to unscramble. Out on his skateboard one day he decides to investigate an art gallery. To his amazement it is "full of strange and beautiful things" which have stories to tell. The question is what are these stories and how does he work them out. Luckily for Dan an angel who lives in a painting decides to some to his aid. It is none other than that most helpful of angels, Gabriel. Clearly not content to sit in a painting all the time the painted angel takes Dan on a tour of the art museum and together they explore the secrets of the paintings seeking to find out what the painters were trying to say when they painted their works of art.

Dan surprises the angel by his sharp eye and his ability to take small details and figure out the meanings behind them. The odd pair goes from painting to painting, discussing and chatting about each one, with Dan learning a bit about the subjects of the paintings and also about the artists who created them.

This unique and thoughtful book would make a wonderful introduction to the world of painting for a child; from Van Gogh to Rembrandt, and from Pollock to Picasso, each type of painting is given a voice and an expression of appreciation which would help any young reader to understand that all art deserves respect and that paintings have incredible stories to tell. There is also a touch of humor which is refreshing and enjoyable, and which compliments the quirky multi-media illustrations. Excellent reproductions of paintings are found throughout the book.