Book Review: Outside Art

By Madeline Kloepper

By Amanda Elshahawi, Creator, Enchanted Literacy October 16, 2022

Recommended Ages 4 - 8 years

What is art? That is the idea this picture book, Outside Art, explores through the eyes of animals.

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” - Aristotle

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” - Edgar Degas

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily off our souls.” - Picasso

“Art is not a thing; it is a way.” - Elbert Hubbard

Just like the above artists, the animals in this story all have different ideas of what art is. As they observe a girl inside a cottage painting, they all consider what she is doing putting colors on a board using a furry stick. The wise chickadee explains the artist is making art! The hare thinks art is a warning while the moose says it is a display of declaration looking for a mate. The forest animals continue to ponder and explore the idea leading them to make their own expressions of art, until the human changes her focus from the painting to the wild animals out her window. Concluding that all of them were right about what Art can be, the animals continue creating.

This explorative book is a great introduction to all the ways you can create and all the meanings it can take. It can be extra fun for kids to hear the animals’ descriptions of what the human is doing, in their observations. Pine Martin, an adorable red panda describes the human’s activities as “using mud to make a water holder” or “plucking the string-log to make noises”.  I recommend this book, perfect for your little explorers and artists. Pair it with a nature walk, and a creation of your own desire!

Amanda is a preschool teacher, mother and avid Central Park picnicker. She values community and is an advocate for families in the foster care system. One day she hopes to publish a children's book of her own. In the meantime, you can follow her Instagram, Enchanted Literacy, which encourages imagination and passion for reading.