Claudia Miravista, a lonely sixth-grader who loves creating and viewing artwork, becomes involved in an unusual task: rescuing a boy named Pim from a mysterious land behind the world’s art canvases.
At the local art museum, Claudia’s classmates laugh at her when she tells them that she saw a blue-eyed boy staring out from a painting of three Dutch gentlemen. However, the observant art curator realizes that Claudia has a special gift, and he ensures that Claudia meets his wise, ancient grandmother. Granny Custos gives Claudia a bit of esoteric information and a quest, helping Claudia travel into Pim’s world. From the start, dangers lurk at every turn, as Claudia becomes physically entangled with famous paintings such as Rubens’ Saint George and the Dragon and Ernst’s Fireside Angel. How powerful is the evil Nee Gezicht, and is Pim trustworthy? There are moments of extreme silliness, as when the Mona Lisa reveals an unexpected “loogie-hocking surfer chick” persona. The cinematic, cliffhanger adventure concludes in a way that only the most naïve readers—and Claudia—will not expect; character development throughout is given less attention than action and art. Readers will find themselves searching out art-history textbooks or the Internet for visuals to accompany the descriptions of art and art movements. Numerous footnotes from a fictional Dr. Burkhardt’s art-history book are both informative and funny.
Plenty of vivid, painterly action scenes carry the day. (Fantasy. 8-12)