Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 03/01/2018 Gr 3–6—Inspired by the author's lifelong love of art and the moving portraits in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, this inventive fantasy gives a second life to its painted subjects. For the past 100 years, Mona Dunn has watched the world go by. Like the rest of the pieces at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, she is alive but only allowed to interact with the other painted inhabitants of the gallery. Communicating with the real world is strictly forbidden. These rules keep the gallery's secret safe but make life lonely and boring for the eternally 13-year-old Mona. So boring, that one afternoon she is caught recklessly moving in front of the gallery director's son, Sargent. Sargent's own loneliness prompts him to develop a friendship with Mona. Their mutual insecurity with peers is relatable despite the magical circumstances. Readers will delight in the canvas world that exists on the other side of the frame. Mona's gallery neighbors are equal parts quirky and endearing, while a sinister threat propels the plot forward. The book includes a full-color insert of the masterpieces referenced, which could be a great starting point for readers to imagine stories and worlds of their own. VERDICT Not just for art enthusiasts, this middle grade read paints fantasy, humor, and mystery into a satisfying tale about the power of friendship.—Sophie Kenney, Vernon Area Public Library District, IL - Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 05/01/2018 *Starred Review* Sargent is nervous about spending the summer with his divorced father, the director of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, New Brunswick. A gifted painter and a bit of a loner, 12-year-old Sargent enjoys the Beaverbrook’s small summer art camp, where he finds other kids who share his interests. One day, when he glimpses the stately, century-old portrait of 13-year-old Mona Dunn sticking her tongue out at the backs of rude visitors, he uncovers a startling secret: the people in the paintings are alive. His growing friendship with Mona is later crucial in thwarting an art theft and discovering the culprits. The mystery plot will keep readers guessing until near the end, but they will find other parts of the story even more involving, from the ups and downs of Sargent’s relationship with the father he barely knows to the intricately envisioned, surprisingly contentious world of the artwork, where painted figures have secret lives, thinking, conversing, and leaping from one picture to the next. Readers will find themselves frequently referring to the full-color reproductions of the paintings mentioned. While Sargent and Mona are vividly portrayed, this chapter book’s most memorable element is also its most unusual: the imaginative conviction that art is alive. - Copyright 2018 Booklist.