Animal Stories at the Gardiner Museum

4Mothers were lucky enough to be invited to the first of five readings in the Kids Can Press Reading Series at the Gardiner Museum, during their run of Animal Stories: Friends, Foes, Fables and Fantasy.

10 birdsWe went along to hear and to meet Cybele Young, author of Ten Birds, and now, Ten Birds Meet a Monster.  The event was a great afternoon activity, and they had snacks and activities on hand for the kids.  There was face painting and a crafts table, and, of course, we bought our own copy of Ten Birds Meet a Monster, just in time for our Halloween books advent.   Cybele Young was right there, at the crafts table, working with the kids, which is such a fun way to get to know an author and illustrator.  While my little guy got his face painted, his brother sat and coloured pictures of the birds we were about to meet in the book.


After the reading, we headed into the Gardiner’s Animal Stories exhibition, a collection that I found equally well curated for old and young.  The exhibition spans more than three centuries of visual culture, and it reveals not only that animals are a constant source of inspiration, but also demonstrates how animals mediate our relationship to nature.  There is a sculpture of a monkey pouring tea that I stood contemplating for ages.  Coffee addict that I am, I was struck by how the sculpture evoked the ideas of stimulation, steeping, pouring (over), and sipping–all through an animal stand-in for the tea-seller.

There is a section with kids’ books to keep the kidlets occupied while you do your standing and contemplating, as well as many pieces that come from children’s books and appeal to them directly.

The highlight of the exhibition, by far, was being able to see a Barbara Reid work up close.  A page from her retelling of the Noah story, Fox Walked Alone, is on display, and to be able to see the detail of her plasticine creations is a real treat.

The Kids Can Reading Series continues on Sundays through November and December, and is free with the price of admission to the Gardiner.