Sunday 25 August 2019

Dr Seuss’s Horse Museum

Dr Seuss’s Horse Museum, illustrated by Andrew Joyner (PenguinRandom House) HB RRP $27.99 ISBN 9780241425725

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This beautifully presented and designed book with the sub-title A Canter Through Horse History, is based on a manuscript and sketches by the beloved Dr Seuss (aka Ted Geisel). Australian illustrator Andrew Joyner studied the sketches and created illustrations that pay homage to Seuss’s line, characters and artistic energy, while being uniquely his own.

The book is uniquely about horses in art and explores how different artists have depicted them. The initial pages show, in cartoon style, the interior of an art gallery where members of the public are surveying artworks – in two and three dimensions – of horses. The artworks are labelled (for example, ‘Harnessed Horse’ from the northern Wei dynasty) so there is an educational aspect to the book. Cleverly hidden in the illustrations are cartoony characters invented by Seuss.

As children (and their adult companion) look at artworks, the book tells how the works were created (for example using line, colour, shape). Other aspects the artists studied about horses we are told were speed and strength. The book talks about specific artists in history, such as Velazquez who ‘painted horses by the dozen’, Picasso, Meissonier and Raphael. Art styles, such as Impressionism, Abstract, Surrealism and Expressionism are also shown along with reproduction of famous paintings, such as ‘Blue Horse 1’ by Franz Marc.

Also included in this jacketed book are excellent endnotes on the artists and artworks featured, as well as how the book came to be. This book is highly recommended for readers aged 7 to 12 years.

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