The best middle grade books that promote a love of art

Wendy McLeod MacKnight Author Of The Frame-Up
By Wendy McLeod MacKnight

The Books I Picked & Why

Chasing Vermeer

By Blue Balliett, Brett Helquist

Book cover of Chasing Vermeer

Why this book?

This book is a modern classic and no wonder – delightful characters, a twisty-turny mystery, and best of all: art. The way Balliett introduces kids to the world of art through puzzles, codes, wordplay, is clever and thrilling and had me completely entranced. The world of art theft is both thrilling and chilling, and this book takes us both places.


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From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

By e. l. konigsburg

Book cover of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Why this book?

I read this book years ago and absolutely loved it! The story of Claudia, who decides to run away and live at The Metropolitan Museum of Art with her brother Jamie. Is filled to the brim with art appreciation, and the power that wonderful art can have to transform our lives.


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The Painting

By Charis Cotter

Book cover of The Painting

Why this book?

My vocabulary for analyzing any piece of art is through storytelling; I can’t tell you how often I’ve looked at a painting and wishing I could step inside at that very moment. It’s a lot of the inspiration behind my own book. But in The Painting, Charis Cotter turns this idea on its head, leaving us wondering if stepping inside a painting would be all we think it would be. This story of suspense and fear and loss is a page-turner!


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Masterpiece

By Elise Broach, Kelly Murphy

Book cover of Masterpiece

Why this book?

A middle-grade novel about an artistic beetle? Sign me up. This delightful story of a talented beetle named Marvin, his human friend James, who work together to help the Metropolitan Museum of Art recover a stolen artwork is delightful, thrilling, and heartwarming. It’s not always easy to have (or not have) artistic talent!


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The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray

By E. Latimer

Book cover of The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray

Why this book?

As a kid, I was always enthralled by the idea of paintings coming to life. Blame it on old Vincent Price movies and Scooby-Doo cartoons!  This book is clever and creepy, and at its heart, speaks to the power art has to change the world by unleashing truths we might not want to talk about. You may want to read some of this book with the lights on! (I did!)


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