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Newlands, Anne.

Toronto. Kids Can Press. 1988. 32pp. full colour. $12.95, ISBN 0-921103-48-4. Also available in French, ISBN 0-88884-577-4. CIP

Grades 2 and up
Reviewed by Louise Griffith

Volume 17 Number 1
1989 January

What a great idea-to produce a children's book to help celebrate the Degas exhibition at the National Gallery in Ottawa in the summer of 1988.

Meet Edgar Degas consists of sixteen colour prints of paintings by Degas, typical of various aspects of his work. They include ballet dancers, the race track, relatives, workers and a self-portrait. Facing each picture is a short commentary in the supposed words of Degas explaining how and why he painted that picture. Anne Newlands is an art historian and an art educator with both a sound knowledge of art and excellent communication skills.

The spectre of death, the sinister, and the role of chance are repeated themes in the novel. On several occasions Michael is haunted by the presence of strangers who appear to carry guns and to follow him. He has nightmares of running people down in his car, and his daughter wrecks two of his cars but manages to escape death. While Michael rages against death and aging, his enigmatic dying lover displays wisdom and resolution far greater than her years.

As an adult art lover, I would have been pleased with twice as many pages. But perhaps young appetites are better whetted than surfeited. Let us hope that Anne Newlands will produce many more art books of this high calibre. Both elementary and public librarians will want copies of this for their children's sections. Many schools will choose to order a class set for students who could not attend the exhibition in person.

Art lovers who are parents, godparents or grandparents will want to purchase copies for birthday presents or to keep for themselves. With the catalogues priced at $70.00, many gallery visitors have selected this as their personal souvenir.

Louise Griffith, Agincourt, Ont.
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