"Sometimes he showed his pictures to his friends.
'What is it?' one of them would ask.
'It's the ring-a-ling of the ice cream truck," Niko would answer.
'It doesn't look like the ice cream truck,' someone else would say.
'It's not the ice cream truck,' Niko would explain. 'It's the ring-a-ling.'
'Where's the bell?'
'It's not the bell. It's the ring-a-ling.'
'I don't get it.'
First of all, I love Bob Raczka. Second, his books drive me crazy. For some reason they are not plucked off the shelves, and I often have to hand-sell them. Then they are enjoyed! For some reason, however, art books are not something kids gravitate to and check out on their own (origami and how-to-draw books aside). As a picture book, I think this one will fare much better.
I certainly hope so, because it offers so much - an introduction to abstract art, the joy of finding someone who 'gets' you, a reminder that there are different ways to see things, inspiration to keep up with what inspires you. Shin's illustrations have a sometimes 3-dimensional effect that draws the reader in, making them a perfect match for the text.
Extension activities are obvious and fun: Talk about colors and shapes and ask kids which they might associate with being happy, sad, sleepy, etc. Give them some paper and art materials, put on some music, and tell them to draw what they feel. Go for a walk with a pad and colored pencils, and draw the sounds or feelings along the way, then share them over a picnic in the park. For one week, before bedtime draw how you felt about the day, and post the pictures in a row. Draw the members of your family abstractly. Watch the Disney movie "Fantasia".
And then go check out some of Raczka's nonfiction, please, I promise you will enjoy it!