IMAGINE! by Raúl Colón
Review Copy from Simon & Schuster
I hope with the few images seen here, you know immediately what a marvelous, magical book the wordless IMAGINE! is. Leaving his apartment in Brooklyn, a boy heads over the bridge to the Museum of Modern Art. Inspired by the paintings he sees - Matisse's Icarus, Picasso's Three Musicians and Henri Rousseau's The Sleeping Gypsy - the characters come to life. The joyful troupe dances through the museum and out into the city, riding the subway and the Cyclone, eating hot dogs, viewing the city from the crown of the Statue of Liberty and singing in Central Park before returning to the Met. Returning home, the boy takes a new look at the abandoned apartment building across the street and paints a mural in tribute to the inspirational day he had with the works of art. Asleep in bed that night, the characters can be seen parading across the city skyline.
A book that is both about art and joys of experiencing art as well as the joy of creating art, IMAGINE! is unforgettable. Colón's author's note reveals that his childhood inspirations were comic books. His hardworking parents were too busy keeping their family afloat to take him to a museum. Visiting an art museum for the first time as an adult, Colón says he, "reacted like a child," experiencing overwhelming emotions. He goes on to wonder how seeing these works of art in a museum as a child might have shaped his path as an artist, writing,
I can only hope that young readers (and older ones too) experience these visuals and want to visit the nearest museum to free their own minds and explore their thoughts - away from the gadgets and the screens that sometimes are designed to "think" for us.
Maybe their minds will explode and fireworks will go off and floodgates will open, creating sparks that lead to their own revelations like mine did.
I'll end with the words of Paul O. Zelinsky from his review of IMAGINE! for The New York Times, "This fine book provides not only exposure to art, and an example of art, but also an example of a boy - a boy of color, a boy in America - with a passion for fine art. These are all things our culture could well stand to see more of."