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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Noonie's Masterpiece - Lisa Railsback (Juvenile)



Released February 24, 2010

www.chroniclekids.com

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

It's often difficult to find books that challenge a developing reader while still appealing to their younger age. Noonie's Masterpiece does a great job balancing both ends of this spectrum. Noonie is a typical 10 year old, yet she sees herself as being anything but typical. Following her mother's death, Noonie's father decided to send her to live with her aunt. He loves her, but his job as an archaeologist has him traveling the globe.

Noonie's disheartened that she doesn't seem to fit in. The only thing she is truly passionate about is her artwork, and she happily uses it to try to lure her father back. When her school holds an art contest involving drawing a picture of your family, Noonie isn't sure how she'll pull it off. After all, Noonie believes family is the one thing she doesn't have.

At heart, the simple message that family does not have to be a mother and father is strong. This is why I feel the book is perfect for children whose parents are separated, frequently traveling or simply cannot be part of their child's life for whatever reason. Noonie is a believable character. She hurts, she's confused and she'll even lash out at those around her due to her insecurities. In a nutshell, she's the very essence of a child.

Throughout the book are discussions Noonie has about or even with famous artists. Blended with the illustrations done by Sarajo Frieden  the book's artistic flair shines through. I enjoyed the whimsical, often imaginative drawings that blend well with the narrative.

For the advancing reader, I'd say the story is perfect for those around 8, 9 and 10, Noonie's Masterpiece is a great choice. The language won't perplex kids, but the addition of illustrations will help kids who still like the involvement of images in their stories.

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