Picture a place where any kid can dive into a storybook and become the main character, step into a painting at a museum for a closer look, or hop on the back of a bear to take a wild ride. By digitally imposing photographs of diverse children into fairytale illustrations, classic works of art, and outdoor photography, “Chicago Treasure” creates a whimsical world as rich as a child’s imagination.
In the first section, “Just Imagine,” starry-eyed youngsters become the heroes of their favorite fairytales, folk tales, and nursery rhymes brought to life through Rich Green’s lush illustrations. Clever original poems and playful newspaper articles tell fresh, condensed versions of classic stories, often through a contemporary lens. Beloved gems like “Cinderella,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Three Little Pigs,” and “Peter Pan” are interspersed with lesser known tales like “Tommy Tucker,” “Pear Blossom and the Dragon,” and “Polly Put the Kettle On.”
In the second section, “Now Showing,” photographs of contemporary kids are digitally placed in paintings by Norman Rockwell, Edward Hopper, Grant Wood, Paul Gustave Fischer, Jean Beraud, Gustave Caillebotte, and others. Some of the expressive children examine their odd new locales with inquisitive delight. Others seem right at home in their old-fashioned, brush-stroked surroundings.
In the final section, “Sightings,” courageous youth, often accompanied by exotic animal sidekicks, explore cultural landmarks in bold ways that may not be possible in the boring confines of reality. A tiny tot triumphantly rounds third base at Wrigley Field. A group of daring children jump a bridge rising over a river while riding on the backs of graceful African impalas. Two young ladies take an afternoon stroll with their pet tiger on a leash. Brief text accompanying each amusing image provides readers with key information about the history of famous tourist destinations.
The theme of inclusion is prevalent throughout “Chicago Treasure.” Every child, regardless of ability, ethnicity, gender, or age is free to see themselves take on great roles in literature and art or let their imagination run wild by exploring iconic locales. While youth from all walks of life, ranging in age from babies to teenagers, populate “Chicago Treasure,” many are students at the Judy and Ray McCaskey Preschool at the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Disabled. In the introduction and afterthoughts, photographer and author Larry Broutman shares some of his most transformative moments with these incredible kids, along with behind-the-scenes photographs and poetry inspired by these touching interactions.
All author proceeds are donated to the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Disabled, and Access Living, Chicago-based nonprofit service agencies.
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