Solving art's mysteries

Pictures in art galleries are full of stories, ideas and sensations, but few viewers can read them as they can read a book. Dan's Angel: a Detective's Guide to the Language of Paintings by Alexander Sturgis and Lauren Child (Frances Lincoln pound;10.99) attempts to take the mystique out of art for the young and uninitiated. Dan, a wannabe detective, wanders into an art gallery. Some of the pictures seem to tell stories, but Dan needs clues to solve the mysteries.

Luckily for him, an angel steps out from Fra Angelico's "Annunciation" and leads him on a gallery trail, explaining symbolism in paintings by Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Rembrandt and many others. Child's crisp graphic line and slabs of colour provide a witty frame to the paintings; each page is a triumph of composition. Informative and inspiring: a first-class resource for literacy and art in the juniors, marred only by the missing page numbers which should reappear in later editions.

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