Sam the library mouse and his friend Sarah are off on a new adventure. This time they leave the library behind and go to a museum so Sam can make sketches in his explorer’s journal. Sarah isn’t so sure that explorers have the time or the interest to write in journals. But Sam shows her that a journal can contain anything, from a ticket stub to drawings of cool things like dinosaurs and ancient Egyptian mummies. As they explore the museum, they see all kinds of art and unexpectedly make friends with another artist. The latest book in this bestselling series is sure to entice readers to come along on the museum adventure.
Kirk’s fourth book about Sam the library mouse continues the exploration theme of the third book, Library Mouse: A World to Explore, while offering a significant focus on art. Along with Sarah, the adventure-seeking mouse he met in the previous story, Sam makes an after-hours visit to the museum next door, giving Sam his first trip outside the library and introducing both mice to art and artifacts from across the centuries. Kirk revels in the museum environment, and readers (with parental help) will be able to identify works by and allusions to Seurat, Hokusai, Degas, and many more. Ages 4–8.
Daniel Kirk speaks about “Library Mouse, A Museum Adventure”:
Like I do in all of my Library Mouse books, I try to tell a good story at the same time I include a little lesson about the contents of a writer’s toolbox. This time around the subject is journal writing, and the different ways kids can use a journal to enrich their experiences in life. Every time I go to a museum I see groups of children making notes and sketches. A museum is a great place to take a journal!
The museum in my book is a composite of many different places I have visited, and it features paintings and sculptures as well as art from ancient history and remote cultures. When I was researching the book I went to museums in New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington D.C., Dallas and Atlanta. Besides being good places to do research for my project, it was great to have an excuse to spend time catching up with a lot of masterpieces I seldom get to see in person.
When I was working out the plot of this Library Mouse story, there were many directions I could have taken. A lot of people think that picture books should be simple and straightforward. So I wrote a version of the story in which my two little mice go to the museum, see a lot of nice pictures, and then go home. Maybe that would have been enough, because for the most part, that is all that happens when we humans go to a museum. But then I thought, what if the mice make a friend while they’re out exploring? That could add a nice element to the tale. I tried adding a new mouse into the story, but it felt like three mice were just too many. Then I thought about having a cat appear in my book. You probably wouldn’t see a cat in an art museum, though you might see a lot of artwork based on a cat theme. But this is a picture book, and anything can happen. So I tried adding a cat, who is also an artist, and it seemed to work. What fun it would be to meet a real artist in a museum, and get to have your portrait drawn! And what fun it would be to discover your own inner-artist, and make your own pictures to hang on a gallery wall.
When I was young, one of the things that always frustrated me about museums was the fact that I didn’t see too many images of children in works of art. There were always too many paintings of grown-ups, doing grown up things. I guess I wanted to look at pictures of kids like me! I figured that Sam and Sarah would probably like it if they saw pictures of mice in the museum. That’s why I made up the basement gallery, where “the Artist” has copied the works of the masters, with pictures of mice in the leading roles. It was really a pleasure for me to paint my own versions of famous paintings, and have a little fun with them, adding ears and tails to the Mona Lisa, George Washington, and many others.
Another thing I could never figure out, when I was a young visitor to art museums, was why the ancient statues always seemed to be broken. It was rare to see a sculpture that didn’t have missing noses, arms or even heads. I always thought that a good museum would have statues that weren’t damaged! Little did I know how hard it is to find any old artifacts that haven’t been cracked or broken in some way. You’ll see Sam and Sarah contemplating this same notion in the book. That doesn’t stop them, though, from getting inspired by an ancient sculpture when they think they need to fight for their lives!
Things to think about and do after you have read “A Museum Adventure”:
Ask your parents or teacher if there are any museums near where you live. Visit them if you can! How do children's museums differ from art museums? From natural history museums? What is your favorite kind of museum? There are so many kinds of museums with different kinds of collections, it's fun to see as many as you can.
Museums are based on individual collections. Do you have anything you like to collect? How would you display your collections if you wanted to let other people come to admire them? Is there anything you'd like to collect, if you could?
In "Library Mouse, A Museum Adventure", Sam and Sarah make friends with an artistic cat. Do cats and rodents ever make friends in real life? Why do you think I chose a cat to be the artist? Would another mouse have been better, or even a person? How would that have changed the story?
Some of the art seen on the walls in "Library Mouse, a Museum Adventure" is my interpretation of real paintings, meant to resemble the art as closely as possible so that children can recognize the source material. Other paintings in my book are "parodies" of famous paintings, substituting mouse heads for the humans originally found in the artwork!
Below is a list of the original art that inspired me in my illustrations. Where possible, I've provided links to websites where you can get more information.
Library Mouse museum adventure art list