Book Review: Anholt's Artists Activity Book

Have you read any of the Laurence Anholt storybooks to your kids?

If you haven't discovered them yet, you are in for a real treat. There are 7 books total, exploring the works of Degas, van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, Cezanne, Matisse, and Leonardo da Vinci. These books are truly AMAZING!

They are the perfect balance of interesting storytelling for kids, and actual information about the artists and their art. 

We have been HUGE fans of all his books for years, but just recently I discovered something I'd never seen before. I was browsing something unrelated, and this Anholt Activity Book popped up and caught my eye. Of course I ordered it immediately, and when it arrived I was so excited to flip through it and see what it was all about.

I'm doing a review here of the book, but if you'd like to get a peek inside, you can join me for a Facebook Live next week where I'll hop on, show you around the book, and answer any questions you might have. To be a part of that live Q+A, just join my private Facebook group, and look for the announcement about what day and time I'll be on.

The book follows the same format for each artist. It begins with a graphic novel style introduction to the artist and their sidekick from the storybook. The Activity Book could be used on it's own, but I think it's much more valuable as a supplement to the storybooks. The characters are the same as in the stories, and there are references to things that are understandable on their own as an introduction, but you'll really get the big picture if you begin by reading the actual storybooks first.

The good news is, his books are SO popular, they are widely available. Any major bookstore will probably have them, Amazon has them all, and our local library has them all as well.

Each graphic-novel story in the Activity Book is about 5-7 pages per artist, and in it, the artist introduces an art project for kids to try at home. The projects include:

  • A charcoal challenge with Cezanne
  • A mad, marvelous machine with Leonardo
  • A wild + wet watercolor with Monet
  • A funky junk sculpture with Picasso
  • A portrait painting with van Gogh
  • An action sculpture with Degas
  • And, a cool colorful cutout with Matisse

Each section ends with a "Chat About Art." It's a one page wrap-up where Anholt shares some background about the artist and their story, and presents some open ended questions that could start a really interesting discussion with your kids.

Finally, Anholt suggests a few other artists to explore to round out what you just learned.

I LOVE that all of the activities here are open-ended. There are no "instructions" for doing art the "right" way. Just guidelines and steps for kids to follow to come up with their own creations.

I think the best thing about this book is the encouraging tone Anholt sets. He recognizes that the act of making art can be challenging for some kids (for a variety of reasons) and he offers some really inspiring advice to help kids who may need an extra boost of support.

Let's connect! Have you read any of the Laurence Anholt books with your kids? Which ones are their favorites? Are you excited to try some of the activities from this book with them?

Remember to join our private facebook group to chat with other other moms and art teachers, and to see a LIVE preview of the book with Q+A.