Children's Fiction: Books About Art Museums

These are excerpts from an extensive bibliography of children's fiction featuring children interacting in the museum has been compiled by Santa Monica librarian Madeline Bryant, retired librarian-turned-author, Susan Patron, pulling also from the A to Zoo Subject Access to Children's Picture Books, 7th Edition. Book summaries have been drawn from the Barnes and Noble online annotations.

Don't forget to stop by the Children's Literature area at the Art Library, too!

Balliett, Blue. Chasing Vermeer. New York: Scholastic, 2004.
When a book of unexplainable occurrences brings Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay together, strange things happen: seemingly unrelated events connect, an eccentric old woman seeks their company, and an invaluable Vermeer painting disappears.

Boehm, Arlene. Jack in Search of Art. Niwot: Roberts Rinehart Publishers, 2001.
Jack the bear mistakes the sign announcing art at the museum for the name of another bear and while searching for him discovers and appreciates beautiful things.

Boyce, Frank Cottrell. Framed. New York: HarperTrophy, 2008.
A grey, Welsh town with a depressed economy and dwindling population changes when world-famous art arrives there for storage in an old mine.

Browne, Anthony. The Shape Game. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2003.
The author/illustrator describes how his mother's wish to spend her birthday visiting an art museum with her family changed the course of his life forever.

Brunhoff, Laurent de. Babar's Museum of Art. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2003.
Babar and Celeste convert Celesteville's old railroad station into an art museum containing famous masterworks featuring elephants.

Bunting, Eve. Night of the Gargoyles. New York: Clarion Books, 1994.
In the middle of the night, the gargoyles that adorn the walls of a museum come to life and frighten the night watchman.

Carmack, Lisa Jobe. Philippe in Monet's Garden. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), 1998.
A frog named Philippe makes his leap to freedom into Monet's Giverny garden, where he finds "a home to call his own" and inspires the artist to add "some green to his painterly scene."

Clayton, Elaine. Ella's Trip to the Museum. New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 1996.
When Ella visits a museum with her school group, she shows them how to look at art in a magical way.

Everett, Gwen. Li'l Sis and Uncle Willie. New York, New York: Hyperion Books for Children, NY, 1994.
Surveys the life of African-American artist William H. Johnson as his young niece might have told it. The artist's paintings provide the illustrations.

Freeman, Don. Norman the Doorman. New York, NY: Puffin Books, 1981, 1959.
Norman, the doorman of a mouse hole in an art museum, uses his own art talent and finds a way to see the art treasures in the galleries upstairs.

Geisert, Arthur. Mystery. Austin: Houghton Mifflin/Walter Lorraine Books, 2003.
During a visit to the art museum, a little piglet and her grandfather investigate the disappearance of several paintings. Clues in the illustrations give readers a chance to solve the mystery along with the heroine.

Harris, John. A is for Artist: A Getty Museum Alphabet. Los Angeles: Getty Trust Publications: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997.
An alphabet book illustrated with details taken from paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Hooper, Meredith. Dogs' Night. London: Frances Lincoln, 2006.
On their annual Dogs' Night, all the dogs depicted in an art gallery leave their paintings to play, but four of them create a sensation by going back into the wrong paintings.

Hurd, Thacher. Art Dog. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1996.
When the Mona Woofa is stolen from the Dogopolis Museum of Art, a mysterious character who calls himself Art Dog tracks down and captures the thieves.

Katz, Susan. Mrs. Brown on Exhibit: And Other Museum Poems. New York: Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing, 2002.
Poems about what the students in Mrs. Brown's class see and do during their school field trips to a variety of museums.

Konigsburg, E.L. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. New York: Simon Pulse, 1970.
Having run away with her younger brother to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, twelve-year-old Claudia strives to keep things in order in their new home and to become a changed person and a heroine to herself.

Lionni, Leo. Matthew's Dream. New York: Random House Children's Books, 1995.
A visit to an art museum inspires a young mouse to become a painter.

Lithgow, John. Micawber. New York: Simon and Schuster Children's, 2002.
Micawber, a squirrel fascinated by art, leaves a museum with an art student and secretly uses her supplies to make his own paintings.

Magnier, Thierry. Isabelle and the Angel. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000.
Isabelle, a pretty pig with artistic aspirations, visits the museum and is shown all the paintings and statues by the little Angel, an experience that changes her life.

(series) Mayers, Florence Cassen. ABC: Egyptian Art from the Brooklyn Museum (ABC Series). (also The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Museum of Modern Art, New York). New York: Harry N Abrams, 1988.
The book presents ancient Egyptian art objects from the Brooklyn Museum in alphabetical order (crocodiles, kings, mummies, pyramid, etc.).

(series) Mayhew, James. Katie and the Mona Lisa. New York: Orchard Books, 1999. (also Katie's Sunday Afternoon, Katie Meets the Impressionists, Katie and the Sunflowers)
At the art museum, while her grandmother dozes, Katie steps into the painting of the Mona Lisa and together they have adventures with the characters from four other well-known Renaissance paintings.

Morrow, Barbara. Help for Mr. Peale. New York: Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing, 1990.
With the help of his son Rubens, the famous painter Charles Willson Peale finds a way to transport his natural history treasures to a new museum in Philadelphis's Philosophical Hall.
(check out the KIA's painting of Reverend Joseph Pilmore by Charles Willson Peale)

O'Connor, Jane. Fancy Nancy at the Museum. New York: HarperCollins, 2008.
In this story, join Nancy's class on a trip to the art museum. Even after a bumpy bus ride, Nancy finds a way to make the day extra fancy!

Parish, Herman. Amelia Bedelia's Masterpiece. New York: Greenwillow Books, 2007.
Housekeeper Amelia Bedelia visits an art museum, where her confusion leads to surprising results.

Scieszka, Jon. Seen Art? New York: Penguin Group (USA), 2005.
As the narrator continues looking for his friend, Art, inside MoMA, he views the best pieces of modern art.

Simmonds, Post. Lulu and the Flying Babies. New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 1989.
Stuck waiting for her family in the art museum when she would much rather be playing outside in the park, a little girl is picked up by two cherubim and taken for a wild romp through several paintings.

Tunnell, Michael O. The Joke's on George. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press, 2001.
Briefly surveys the life of the early American portrait painter, Charles Willson Peale, and describes an incident in which George Washington, visiting Peale's natural history museum, was fooled by a lifelike paintings of two of Peale's sons climbing a staircase.

Vincent, Gabrielle. Where are you, Ernest and Celestine? China: Greenwillow Books, 1986.
When Celestine momentarily loses Ernest at the museum, she fears that he prefers the paintings to her.

Weitzman, Jacqueline P. You Can't Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum. New York: Penguin Group (USA), 2001.
In this wordless story, a young girl and her grandmother view works inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, while the balloon she has been forced to leave outside floats around New York City causing a series of mishaps that mirror scenes in the museum's artworks.

Wellington, Monica. Squeaking of Art: The Mice Go to the Museum. New York: Dutton Juvenile, 2000.
Mice visit a museum and admire famous works of art in the different galleries, each of which is devoted to a specific subject or theme. Includes information about the paintings and where they may be found in real life.

Wheatley, Nadia. Luke's Way of Looking. La Jolla: Kane/Miller Books Publishers, 2001.
Luke is frustrated by his conservative and overbearing art teacher, until he visits a museum and finds validation for his own special way of looking at the world.