Frank Cottrell Boyce is the author of Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth, The Astounding Broccoli Boy, Cosmic, Framed, and Millions, the last of which was a New York Times bestseller and was made into a movie by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle. His books have won or been nominated for numerous awards, including the Carnegie Medal, the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, and the Whitbread Children's Book Award. Frank is also a screenwriter, having penned the scripts for a number of feature films as well as the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. He lives in Liverpool with his family.
Gr 6-9-Boyce's second novel is written with the same charm and deadpan humor as Millions (HarperCollins, 2004). Dylan Hughes is the only boy living in Manod, an uneventful Welsh town of drizzling grayness that he thinks is full of Hidden Beauty. His best buddies are two agoraphobic chickens named Michelangelo and Donatello after the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. His family runs the Snowdonia Oasis Auto Marvel garage. When the business falters, his father takes off, and Dylan, Mam, his older sister, Marie, and his aspiring criminal genius younger sister, Minnie, try to make Oasis more profitable so that he will return. Flooding in London causes the National Gallery to evacuate its paintings to the safety of Manod's mine. (An actual evacuation to the Manod slate quarry occurred during World War II.) Lester, the art expert in charge, takes a shine to Dylan as an art connoisseur on hearing the chickens' names. When he agrees to put one masterpiece at a time on view, the villagers' lives are changed. Minnie concocts a hilarious scheme to nick Van Gogh's Sunflowers, replacing it with a paint-by-number affair. All gets sorted out and Dad comes home. The colorful characters steal the show-even the secondary players are cleverly drawn. But it is Dylan's narrative voice, with its unintended humor, appealing na?vet?, and expression of absolute belief in his dad that is truly a masterpiece.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
What can be said about a novel that successfully combines threads about Italian Renaissance art and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? As Dylan Hughes, the narrator might put it, "completely mint." The leading export in the small Welsh town of Manod is its people, leaving the Hughes family with a gas station but few cars. Serendipitously, Dylan's mother buys an espresso machine at a car-boot sale at the same time that a large group of out-of-towners arrives. Flooding in London has led the National Gallery to move its valuable holdings to an abandoned quarry just up the mountain from the Hughes' garage. The art chief mistakes Dylan for a precocious art aficionado after hearing the names of Dylan's pet chickens: Donatello and Michelangelo. (Turtles' fans will know the real namesakes.) Meanwhile, Dylan's younger sister, a criminal mastermind-in-the-making, notes, "Art and criminals go together like fish and chips," and plots to right the family's fortunes by nicking Van Gogh's Sunflowers, and replacing it with a paint-by-numbers look-alike. Boyce plants a terrific message about the power of art to inspire and transform, as well as a belly laugh on nearly every page. The quirky Hugheses may be the most winning family of wacky Brits to cross the Atlantic since Hilary McKay's Cassons. Even the minor characters here, such as bossy schoolteacher Ms. Stannard and the dour town butcher, are deftly drawn. This sophomore effort from the author of the witty and wonderful Millions is equally charming and hilarious. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
"This novel's wry, quirky sweetness [will connect] with readers on
a number of points."--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"This sophomore effort from the author of the witty and wonderful Millions is equally charming and hilarious."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Truly a masterpeice."--School Library Journal (starred review)