In his art Magritte depicts everyday objects from a new perspective; nothing he creates turns out quite the way we expect. A stone floats weightlessly in the air, a landscape dissolves into fragments, a seagull wears a dress made of summer clouds and a locomotive steams out of a firepalce. This book introduces children to Magritte's crazy, topsy-turvy world full of riddles and secrets and to the concept of seeing everyday things differently.
The books in Prestel's Adventures in Art series do a wonderful job of balancing respect for art with an understanding of what holds a young child's interest. Now You See It--Now You Don't is filled with excellent reproductions of the paintings of René Magritte, carefully printed in color, with a lot of white space around each one. Designed with confidence in a child's ability to find the paintings fascinating, the layout is calm, and the text is full of fun. "What a horrible meal!" reads the caption over the famous image of the plate of ham with a human eye staring out from the middle of the meat. Throughout the book such comments are written in the same proper, school-board script Magritte himself used to caption such pictures as "This is not a pipe" (which depicts--of course--a pipe). Of a painting of six everyday objects with wonky captions (such as an empty glass labeled "the storm,") titled The Key to Dreams, readers are asked, "What do you think this picture could be called?" The book reproduces many old, black-and-white, surrealist snapshots, and even introduces Man Ray to the reader. This is the sort of multifaceted book that should enthrall the parent as well as the preschooler, and probably everyone in between. --Peggy Moorman