Asian Art: Come Look with Me

Published By: Charlesbridge Publishing

Book Category: Non-Fiction, Art, Architecture, Photography

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Reviewed by Muhammed Hassanali

Asian Art is one of the books in the “Come Look with me” series that aims to invoke art appreciation in children. The book is intended for use in a classroom or small group setting with a facilitator leading the discussion. Asian Art has twelve color illustrations, each depicting a work of art; each illustration has three to four discussion questions pertaining to the artwork, followed by a brief description of the work and the artist.

The art works illustrated are from China, Japan and Korea, and also some from India, Pakistan and Tibet. While most of the art media is print (scrolls, paintings, block prints, miniatures, etc.), there are also examples of other art media (including statues and pottery). The illustrations span from traditional to contemporary works and cover religious as well as secular artistic expressions.

At the outset, it must be noted that trying to capture representations of Asian art in just twelve examples is subject to criticism – and this book is not immune from that observation. For instance, examples from the Middle Eastern regions are not represented, neither are works from Malaysia, Indonesia or that part of Southeast Asia. The book focuses overwhelmingly on print and does not show examples of metalwork, woodwork, tile (e.g., mosaics), textile (e.g., rugs and clothing), body art (i.e., henna and tattoos) and other artistic media. Despite these shortcomings, what is covered, is covered well and is worthy of consideration.

The questions are open-ended and designed as pointers to start a discussion on the artwork. While these questions are for the most part well thought out, the facilitator would be advised to tailor the questions to the audience. Background on the artwork and artist can be shared before or after the discussion – depending on the facilitator’s preference.

I discovered that focusing on only two or three illustrations works best for effective discussion, and that Asian Art is just as effective with adults as it is with children. My only regret is that I wish the book had included more examples, thus increasing its breath and depth of coverage.

Armchair Interviews says: Excellent, but this seems more geared to an educator than home use with children.

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