Visually, a feast for anyone who grew up on the turn-of-the-century Wilmington artist's books -- dozens of deluxe illustrations by Pyle and his pupils, ranging from modified art nouveau to yo-ho-ho-and-a-bottle-of-rum ""realism."" The text, however, is less than spellbinding. Pitz is obviously a devotee of this minor-league subject (he has written many articles on Pyle and his school as well as the 1968 book The Brandywine Tradition) but doesn't find anything very arresting to say about him. Dutifully, he relates the main events of an astonishingly uneventful Victorian-Edwardian life, with particular emphasis on Pyle's teaching (unorthodox in its day for its stress on capturing ""those beauties and emotions that stir the human soul"" rather than technical proficiency), but he fails to convey any sense of the man's character -- or even make a case that there is a character to be conveyed. He warms up a little when he describes the main ingredients of Pyle's full-blooded artistic style or styles, and almost waxes lyrical about the inspiring influence of the Brandywine farmland that is now ironically called Wyeth country (Andrew Wyeth was one of Pyle's most celebrated pupils). But the text runs a dispirited second to the illustrations, which may stir acute nostalgia among admirers of juvenilia.