Art Stars in a Gallery of New Children's Books

By Lee Littlewood

September 2, 2016 5 min read

It's never too early to introduce kids to iconic art. These new books feature an interactive collection of art from Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Henri Matisse.

"Andy Warhol Coloring Book"; Mudpuppy Publishing; 32 pages; $9.99

With clean, white backgrounds and a bold banana on the cover, this coloring book for all ages stars 32 black-and-white Andy Warhol sketches, including his Campbell's soup cans, Brillo soap pads and Marilyn Monroe portrait. Other not-so-famous works include a ship, a train, a dog and a parrot. You'll see self-portraits of Warhol, too, so kids can catch a glimpse of the artist's boyish looks.

Produced by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, this lovely coloring book makes a perfect gift. It comes with a crayon set that's packaged in a look-alike Campbell's soup can. The unique crayon labels include Cream of Celery Soup, Space Fruit Peach, Blue Cat, Licorice Marilyn, Pink Cow and 13 other unique Andy Warhol-friendly ones. Young artists will recognize some of the images in the book and the names of the crayons, but will also find Warhol's art to be unexpected, mod and very, very fun.

"A is for Andy: ABCs with Andy Warhol"; Mudpuppy Publishing; 34 pages; $10

Before Warhol became one of the most recognized American artists of the 20th century, he was a 1950s commercial artist. This lovely book shows off some of that art. It's a bit more toned down and gentle than many of his famous works, but very whimsical, beautiful and detailed, nonetheless. From "A" for red, lush apples, to "F" for cool, mid-century fish, to "Z" for exotic, vivid zoo animals, Mudpuppy's hip board book ends with a personal photograph of Warhol eating cereal with his mother, Julia, in 1964. She, in fact, provided the flowy, fun handwritten text for this book, making it a gem for youngsters and collectors alike.

Babies can also enjoy Warhol's art with the "A is for Andy Ring Flash Cards" book, also from Mudpuppy. The 26 sturdy cards are held together by a yellow ring. Or they can be used separately to decorate a classroom or child's bedroom. Featured on the cards are the same 1950s artworks from Warhol's illustrator days.

"Roy's House" by Susan Goldman Rubin; art by Roy Lichtenstein; Chronicle Books; 32 pages; $15.99.

"In Roy's house, a telephone rings. Company is coming!" begins this very brightly colored tale, followed by Roy Lichenstein's famous "r-r-r-r-ring!!" painting of a yellow telephone. Luckily, Lichtenstein painted many works, including a huge couch covered in his signature black outlines, a primary-color counter, a yellow bedroom and even a plain, white bathroom. Susan Goldman Rubin's introduction flows swimmingly from one retro 1960s room to another, with red fish in a bowl encouraging kids to count, and a hand on a yellow sponge reminding them to clean up.

Lichtenstein was another very well-respected pop artist. Nearly 20 years after his death, he's still a major American artist. This kid-friendly book, which includes an author's note and more information about each work, is as inviting and exciting as its subject.

"Blue & Other Colors with Henri Matisse"; Phaidon Press; 22 pages; $9.99.

Subtitled "First Concepts with Fine Artists," this gorgeous board book introduces tots to colors and color combinations within Henri Matisse's famous cut-outs. From "Blue" to "More Blue" to "Blue and so many other colors," this smart book will catch little viewers' attention quickly. The funky, organic, mod shapes of Matisse's works coupled with classic and not-so-obvious color wheel combinations will certainly hook them. They may even laugh and take note of art captions, such as "Orange and purple look so nice together" and "here's blue again, all fancy." Twenty-five works of art total make up "Blue & Other Colors." It's a nice way to mix color recognition and fine-art appreciation.

"California the Magic Island" by Doug Hansen; Heyday Books; 46 pages; $17.

Majestic, colorful and incredibly gorgeous, this ABC book is more detailed and involved than most. Doug Hansen's ode to California introduces 26 animals that tell readers why California is worthy of the regal name Queen Calafia. Poster-like vignettes showcase the loveliness of the oceans, mountains, beaches and deserts of this magic state, while little-known facts are also provided. Intricately and beautifully detailed and informational, "California the Magic Island" is a treat, even for non-Golden State inhabitants.

To find out more about Lee Littlewood, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

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