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Picture This! A Kid’s Guide to Great Artists and Paintings, put together by Paul Thurlby and The National Gallery was sent to me by the Amazon Vine review programme in exchange for my honest opinion.


I love Paul Thurlby’s work, which was why I was happy to receive the book, although his input is most obvious on the cover art and the first few pages, and tends to taper off towards the end of the book.

It reminded me slightly of when Quentin Blake took over the gallery several years ago, and his work was used to frame the pictures he’d chosen to display. If you’re looking for a Thurlby heavy work, this is not really for you. Having said that, it is perfect if you’re looking for a kid’s guide to the National Gallery with added funkiness from a top class illustrator.

The book is divided into sections which allow for a child’s eye experience of exploring some of the paintings in the gallery, and some material on what to expect if you visit the gallery itself. The sections are tailored to appeal, with headings such as ‘Children Like Me,’ and ‘Myths, Tales and Legend.’

The text is well thought out, with a few short sentences that describe what the section is about, interspersed with questions for the reader to actively encourage the reader to engage with the paintings in a thoughtful way. There are also activities to do, and the reader is encouraged to draw and write in the book, which is something I really liked.

The pictures from the Gallery are, in the main, really well chosen and utilised, although given that there are over 3000 pictures in the gallery, I did think it was a little weak to use a couple of the pictures more than once. I’d like to have seen fresh material to illustrate the points being made.

I think it’s great that all the pictures are also reproduced in colour, and to a pretty high quality. The only criticism would be that they are fairly small,  which I can understand in terms of packing in more for the, very reasonable price, but makes it a little difficult when some of the questions for the reader involve them having to look closely at small details on the already small paintings.

Having said that, I think for a fiver, the book is excellent. It’s well made, with sturdy covers and spiral binding so that it can be used as a practical object, as well as read. It’s thoughtfully laid out with decent space for the readers to do their own activities in, and with a good font size for the text. It’s bright and appealing and well written. It would be a wonderful gift for a child interested in art, but also a great addition to class rooms and school libraries for primary readers.