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By: David Almond
Imprint: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9780440420132
2008-03-11 - $8.99

Fourteen-year-old Davie and his best friend, Geordie, are altar boys at their local Catholic Church. They’re full of mischief, but that all changes when Stephen Rose comes to town. Father O’Mahoney thinks it would be a good idea for Davie and Geordie to befriend him—maybe some of their good nature will rub off on this unhappy soul. But it’s Stephen who sees something special in Davie.

Stephen’s a gifted sculptor. One day as Davie looks on, Stephen brings a tiny figure to life. It’s a talent he has, the gift of creation—and he knows that Davie has this talent, too. Davie allows Stephen to convince him to help bring a life-size figure to life—and Clay is born. Clay is innocent, but Stephen has special plans for him.

What has Davie helped to unleash on the world?

From the Hardcover edition.

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September 13, 2014


★ “K-Gr 3–This is a delightful story that must be viewed and read several times to capture all of its wonderful details, humor, and charm. Remy is an artist who paints “the essence of a person, not their likeness,” no doubt because of his very poor eyesight. Lulu is a Jack Russell–type dog who becomes Remy’s traveling companion, but Lulu happens to be an artist as well. When Remy sets up his huge canvasses to paint a portrait, Lulu draws a miniature portrait down along the bottom of the canvas at Lulu height, but Lulu’s subjects are the animals that each poser has with him or her. While Remy’s portraits are quite abstract and usually integrate some of the pet’s features into the image of the sitter, Lulu creates finely detailed portraitures of the pets with extravagant clothing reminiscent of their owner. The patrons are astonished at Lulu’s talent, and the duo become solvent, as well as the talk of the town. It is only when one patron, an optometrist, gives Remy a new pair of spectacles that Remy “sees” why his popularity has taken a sharp upturn. The result is utter despondence until an invitation comes their way that gives both a new perspective. Reminiscent of Peggy Rathmann’s Officer Buckle and Gloria (Putnam, 1995), the dog is the one with the crowd-pleasing talent, while the human remains oblivious for a time. Children and adults will enjoy giving the two types of paintings a close look and picking up the subtle humor in each. Hawkes has done the illustrations for the story, but Harrison is credited for creating Lulu’s miniatures. The contrast of the two types of illustration is what make this book so clever.”–Maggie Chase, Boise State University, ID, School and Library Journal, starred

“Perhaps as a hat tip to their own collaboration—Harrison was once Hawkes’s intern—Hawkes (Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch) tells a story about two fictional artists who work together. Lovable, nearsighted Remy wears a baggy purple smock and bottle-bottom spectacles, and paints cubist-style portraits. “I paint the essence of a person, not their likeness,” he says, just before a disgruntled subject breaks a canvas over his head. Unbeknownst to the myopic Remy, his brilliant hound, Lulu, sneaks exquisite, sardonic portraits of the owners’ pets into the corners of Remy’s larger portraits; these miniatures are Harrison’s (Extraordinary Jane) work. When Remy gets a pair of proper glasses and realizes that Lulu’s work has been winning the praise he thought belonged to him, there’s a period of chilly alienation before the two reconcile. Hawkes’s artwork is characteristically sunny and lighthearted, while Harrison’s detailed miniatures, whose animal subjects are posed in elaborate period costumes, sit a bit uneasily atop Hawkes’s spreads. While the end result is thoroughly charming, they testify to some unwritten truth about the difficulty of reconciling two visual universes within the same book. Ages 4–9.”–Publishers Weekly