Friday, November 08, 2019

Museum Magic! Explorers by Matthew Cordell

Dad, Mom, and two kids--big brother and little sister--head off for a special outing--to the museum! Outside the imposing building, they stop for hot dogs, and the boy spies something else that gets his attention.

Under a sign that says MAGIC, a homeless man sits, selling origami birds, and the boy has to have one. It flies great!


The boy chases it as it soars up over the big stairway to the tall columns around the door.

Inside the museum, the boy's sister wants to visit the Butterfly Room first, but the boy preempts the choice by sailing his bird-plane toward the towering T. Rex skeleton in the middle of the grand hall. He runs after it through the whole exhibit and finally....

As the rest of the family admires the awesome Arms and Armor exhibit, the boy aims his toy past the Egyptian mummies, and it flies right though ancient Greece and China, where another boy spies it and with a quick reach and grab, he makes a...

The other boy smiles as he tries to return the toy, but with a frown, its owner ungraciously makes a grab for it.

Dad kneels down for a eyeball-to-eyeball lecture on good manners, and the four sit down for a short timeout, just as little sister spots her chance to...


Big brother follows the flight, down the curvy staircase, past the dinosaur, the mummies, the Chinese dragon, and the swords and suits of armor. But it's gone! Dejectedly he sits down on the time-out bench. He's lost, too! His toy is nowhere to be seen., when...

With a big smile, the other boy flies it to a perfect landing beside him. Boy, toy, and family are reunited, as both families meet and agree to take in the Butterfly Room together. As they say goodbye, the boy passes the flying bird on to his new friend. But...

Where is that Magic Man by the hot dog stand? In the Caldecott-winning Matthew Cordell's new, almost wordless book, Explorers (Feiwel and Friends, 2019), a family exploration of what looks to be Chicago's Field Museum turns out to be more of a learning experience than just mummy and armor lore. Two different boys bond when they share an almost magical toy and an unexpected friendship is begun. Cordell's trademark scratchy pen-and-ink illustrations portray his own family to depict a humorous and heartwarming lesson in kindness learned along with the exhibits. "Full of heart!" says the Wall Street Journal.

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