Posted by Venus on Sunday, October 26, 2014
Labels: picture book review
with miniatures by Hannah E. Harrison
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Lulu and her master, Remy are passionate painters. Remy can't always find paying customers though, but not many people seem to appreciate his abstract style. That is until Lulu begins to secretly lend her paw to Remy's work, adding tiny paintings of her own in the corner of Remy's work. Soon, the pair are the most celebrated artists in France, but Remy can't figure out why. When Remy is finally given a pair of glasses, he sees that their popularity is because of Lulu's pet portraits. Upset, Remy refuses to paint with Lulu until he is commissioned for a portrait where the old woman loves his artwork because she herself cannot see.
Because the artists story seems to be universal, this is yet another story of a struggling artist. I found myself feeling rather melancholy about the whole thing though. Here is this wonderful abstract artist who is being shown as a half-blind fool with a dog who paints beautiful mini-portraits and is the only reason why he is finally gaining any acclaim. No wonder he is angry and hurt when he finally figures it out. Can you imagine? Then again, that is what the author is asking his audience to do and although it is a cute idea that this dog can paint things that eclipse his master's art, it made me sad for Remy. Getting out-painted by a dog would be the epitomy of failure in my mind. And this is the problem with an adult reading picture books sometimes.
This is a story, at its core, about painting from the heart and being true to yourself. It is about a cute dog that helps its master by painting beautiful miniature portraits and I think kids will gobble it up because if I know anything about kids I know this--kids like dogs.
I love the illustrations and thought that the addition of Hannah E. Harrisons little masterpieces adding a nice visual element to the story, but for all the bright colors, I couldn't let go of my empathetic melancholy.