Title: Luna Loves Art
Author: Joseph Coelho
Illustrator: Fiona Lumbers
Publisher: Andersen Press
Genre: Children’s picture book
Book format: Paperback
Sweet Strawberries:  Sweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet Strawberry

Description:  Today Luna is goig on a school trip to the art gallery.  Van Gogh – check.  Rousseau – check.  Picasso – check.  Luna loves art, but it seems that the new boy, Finn, doesn’t want to be there at all…

*Free copy provided by pulisher for review…

Review:  This is a interesting story with some lovely illustrations but I’m not too sure about how this story goes. ‘Luna Loves Art’ in paperback is wider and taller than A4 in size and is filled with thick matt pages of illustrations and text. On the first and last double pages are some illustrations depicting real works of art that appear within the story along with the artist’s names and year of creation which I felt was a wonderful touch!

Luna Loves Art book page image one
©The Strawberry Post

The story begins with Luna who loves art and is getting ready to go on a school trip. When she gets to school she’s excited as are the other children, all except for Finn who is looking at the floor. As the kids explore the art gallery Luna is in her element, looking at all the sculptures and paintings, but in the meantime her class mate Finn is quiet and doesn’t seem to be interested. When they reach the impressionists room, Finn tries to touch a painting but Luna tells him he’s not allowed to touch the art. This later causes Finn to act mean towards Luna before he is then taken aside by a teacher. Luna wonders why Finn acts the way he does and is told that Finn might just need a friend. I don’t usually like to give away too much about a story even in a picture book but I do want to comment on what happens as I do feel that something was a big ‘off’ with this story so a spoiler warning for the next paragraph.

When Luna and Finn end up looking at a Henry Moore sculpture of a family, a mother father and baby, Finn ends up getting upset, saying that families don’t look like that. This causes Luna’s mother, a parent helper, to speak to Finn telling him that all families look different. Things then resolve themselves very quickly and in the end Finn and Luna seem to suddenly become good friends, chatting on the school bus on the way home, the story having a happy ending.

I haven’t read any of the Luna Loves books before this one and so I don’t know what format they usually take but when I began reading this I did think it would be more focused on the main charater of Luna and the art in the story rather than her classmate Finn.  This isn’t a problem but just something that I noticed.  When Finn is mean to Luna her mum sits down with her and tells her that Finn just probably needs a friend and later the two are suddenly good friends at the end of the story even though Finn never seems to be sorry for his outburst and doesn’t apologise. It’s this sudden switch in Finn’s behaviour without really being seen to understand that he was wrong to be mean that makes this story feel so strange to me. I know and understand that the author was trying to send a positive message about friendship and being nice to others whose home life situations could be causing them to act out, but I’m not sure this was done so well as in reality such problems with kids are usually more complex that this and don’t always result in the kids suddenly being nice after being mean.

The illustrations are really amazing and I love the detail that’s put into them. The art in the gallery really does look like the original pieces and I love how the characters all look, and the expressions of Luna and Finn especially. There is a wonderful page within the story too which shows a certain room in the gallery which the kids enter at some point and not only is it beautifully illustrated but it has some extra special reflective holographic parts to the page which I wasn’t expecting at all and it makes it look extra engaging and wonderful to see when reading this book! The illustrations are really what makes this book wonderful to look at and I would recommend this book for the illustrations alone!

Despite my earlier criticism, the story itself is good, and I love the way that the art is shown, with the kids all enjoying the art in the gallery, which reminds me of times when I visited an art gallery on a school trip! Seeing all the art on the first and last pages makes you want to see them in real life and I’m sure many children will be inspired and want to go and see some real art after looking at this book. Overall the story is okay, but it just feels like it’s lacking something. Finn’s behavious isn’t good at the beginning and although things resolve in the end he doesn’t say sorry or has any moment where it seems he’s really sorry or understands why it was wrong to behave the way he did. There is a nice moment between Finn and Luna in the end but I feel that maybe an extra page or two in this story would have made the book better. The idea that a child acts mean towards others because of problems in their family life, in this case what seems to be a broken home compared to Luna’s two parent family, does also feel like it’s stereotyping a little bit too, as this isn’t always the case, although this is a minor point for me and one I only really noticed after someone else pointed it out.

Luna Loves Art book page image two
©The Strawberry Post

Overall it is still a lovely book and one I’m sure many children will love to look at again and again and it does still show Luna doing the right thing in being nice to Finn, even if the story isn’t quite what I expected or perfect to me.

What do you think of this book?  Were you interested in art as a child?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂