An Artful Book Club

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I smile as I read an article about a school that has just discovered a painting — hanging in their gymnasium for years — is a rare and valuable piece of art. This clipping goes into my collection of articles on lost or missing art masterpieces for our second mother-daughter book club meeting, where we will be discussing FROM THE MIXED UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER by E.L. Konigsburg.

Our group of girls, ages 7 to 9, chose the Newbery Award-winning book about a girl and her brother who run away from home to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, where they uncover a mystery surrounding a statue.

At the book club meeting, we discuss the book while trying our hand at several art-themed activities. My friend Ellen found a recipe on for delicious "chocolate clay," so the girls can mold and chisel their own statues like Michelangelo, one of the artists featured in the book. With some kneading, the chocolate clay yields little edible statues with a bumpy texture.

The girls also get to create their own ice cream canvases. Using block ice cream, I cut the "canvases" — one-inch thick slices of ice cream — and the girls "paint" them with colored cake decorating gel, and sundae sauces from condiment squirt bottles.

Next we move on to the discussion for which we have brainstormed several topics and questions, along with the newspaper articles I stashed away, to guide us. Ellen also brings pages from the New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art's web site ( with information about its own role in the book.

"Mom, can we visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art?" one of the girls asks. We moms smile in silent acknowledgement of the power of books to expand kids' minds.

How do you keep kids reading? Click the comments link below to find and share ideas.

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An Artful Book Club

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