Wednesday, February 17, 2016

ARC Review: Behind the Canvas by Alexander Vance

Behind the Canvas
Author: Alexander Vance
Publication: Feiwel & Friends (February 23, 2016)

Description: There is a world behind the canvas. Past the paint of the canvas is a realm where art lives, breathes, creates, destroys.

Claudia Miravista loves art but only sees what is on the surface, until the Dutch boy Pim appears in her painting. Pim has been trapped in the world behind the canvas for centuries by a power-hungry witch, and now believes that Claudia is his only hope for escape. Fueled by the help of an ancient artist and some microwaveable magic, Claudia enters the wondrous and terrifying world, intent on destroying the witch's most cherished possession and setting Pim free. But in that world nothing is quite as it appears on the surface. Not even friendship.

My Thoughts: Claudia Miravista is a loner. Her interests don't mesh with those of other twelve-year-olds in middle school. She is fascinated by art and the artists who created it. Her proudest possession is Dr. Buchhardt's Art History for the Enthusiast and the Ignorant which is the source of the many footnotes in this story. She loves to hang out in art museums.

Claudia's adventures begin when she sees a blue-eyed boy in the background of a picture where he doesn't belong. She sees him again in a different painting, puts her hand on the painting and wishes that they could be friends. The boy's name is Pim and he tells her the story of how he ended up in the world behind the canvas and begs for Claudia's help. She has to find the witch who cursed him and break her magic staff. Unfortunately, Claudia lives outside of Chicago and the witch lives in the Netherlands. The only way to get to her is to travel behind the canvas.

Fortunately her grandfather and the director of the art museum are friends and know someone - Granny Custos - who can help Claudia enter the world behind the canvas and, better yet, get out again. Pim and Claudia's plans to meet and travel together are derailed when Claudia enters the wrong canvas in order to get away from a persistent security guard. Claudia has all sorts of adventures including meeting the dragon that St. George fought as she tries to find Pim. Along the way she meets a number of characters from paintings and travels through landscapes from a wide variety of artists. She also learns that Pim might not be the character that he has seemed to be with her. Maybe he's a villain and not a victim.

I thought the story was exciting and filled with action and adventure. I also found the relationship between Claudia and Pim was an engaging story. I enjoyed the snarky tone of the footnotes which combined information about artists and editorial asides.

Fans of adventure, whether they are art lovers or not, will enjoy this fast-paced and entertaining story.

Favorite Quote:
At one point in his life, he famously cut off a piece of his left ear and gave it to a girl. (While I'm no expert in the game of love, I would be reluctant to try that at home.)
I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

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