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Begin The Year With Artful ABCs

Ronna Mandel reviews Picturing The ABCs at the Norton Simon Museum

Published by Norton Simon Museum; Created by the Norton Simon Education Department and Authors Lynn LaBate and Manny Guardado, $15, ages 2 and up.

We are so fortunate to have an abundance of world-class art museums here in Los Angeles. One particular favorite of mine is Pasadena’s Norton Simon Museum with its unparalleled former private collection amassed in the 20th century by businessman and visionary Norton Simon.

Norton Simon ABCs CoverNow with the publication of Picturing The ABCs, Norton Simon’s first children’s book, parents can watch the world of art come alive for their children while flipping through the 108 pages of this hardbound book. The ABCs serve as an ideal introduction for both parents and children to the museum’s masterpieces and beautifully landscaped grounds. The 26 die-cut pages invite children with an initial peek through the window to then turn the page to view the original artwork in its entirety.

Make the ABCs an interactive experience, too. Choose to visit the museum first and buy the book as a souvenir to view again and again or better still, why not consider getting the book first, familiarizing your youngsters with the art work then planning a day out looking for all the paintings, sculptures and sketches in person?!

I never tire of children’s books that promote the love and appreciation of art in all its forms. You’ll see a wide range of art included from Vasily Kandinsky to Vincent Van Gogh, from the Dutch Masters to Modern Art. Whether you’re a fan of the more common A is for apple or the more unusual R is for ruff, all the selections will entertain and educate, too. Start off the new year with this great new book!

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Get on Board with a Good Book on National Train Day May 8th

A Is for “All Aboard!” is one of those books both my son and daughter would have loved when they were younger and big-time into all things
T R A I N!! We had our turn with Thomas and Brio, even Lionel for a while, but there’s nothing like the real thing. I have to admit we are all tremendous train fans in our family. Having lived in both Frankfurt and London, we frequently travelled by train throughout the Continent and the U.K. taking the Eurostar and the I.C.E.  I was even hoping we’d get a chance on the TGV in France or better yet, the fabled Orient Express, but there’s still time.

516fonxryhl_sl500_aa300_Reading through this lively new book has brought all our exciting train journeys back to the fore and will definitely get youngsters eager to have an experience of their own. My husband still takes my son, Coleman, down to Union Station now and then and frankly I wonder if it’s really more for him than for Coleman!

Written by Paula Kluth, Ph.D. and Victoria Kluth, the  daughters of a Green Bay & Western Railroad worker, this ABC book  for train lovers is both educational and entertaining. When I delved a little deeper I also discovered the book was conceived with autistic children in mind, and the publisher’s Web site says the authors even incorporated feedback from children with autism. The bright bold artwork by Brad Littlejohn will capture kids’ attention and the information is sure to spark their imagination. The language used is clear and concise and many new concepts are introduced creating great learning opportunities.  I liked the teaching tips included at the end pages since ABC books are a great vehicle for engaging children and promoting literacy. At $16.95 this book is worth every penny.

The following is an example that is a particular favorite of mine. O is for Orient Express: The Orient Express is the name of a long-distance passenger train. The route has changed many times. Paris and Istanbul were its original end points.

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