Art Fraud Detective by Anna Nilson
(Larousse Kingfisher Chambers, 2000).
Lack of art appreciation is a self-perpetuating problem. We know we should expose our kids to great art, but standing in the museum our thoughts vacillate between, "That's a pretty one," and "I wonder where the snack shop is." Without a good working knowledge of art history, we feel ill-equipped to help our kids notice the best in the paintings we see.
That's why I appreciate books like Art Fraud Detective that help us notice details and learn more about great works of art. This clever book sets kids in the title role, with the job of looking at the 34 paintings in the book and figuring out which ones are frauds.
The pages are split horizontally so that the top half of the book represents the paintings in the "museum," and the bottom half is a catalog of the museum's paintings. As the book explains, the catalog was photographe d before four gangs of art thieves stole 30 of the 34 paintings and replaced them with fraudulent copies. To detect the fakes, kids must compare each painting with its catalog photograph and look for small differences. The catalog pages also contain information about the artist and the painting. The book comes with a bookmark-shaped magnifier for looking at details, and the answers are in the back just in case you need them.