Everybody’s a critic.
Lucy, an elementary-age white girl who appears to live alone with her cat, is an artist, painting happily in her garden until a reporter from the local paper comes by. “I am painting the color of laughter,” she explains. The reporter scoffs: “It looks like JELLYBEAN SOUP!” Nevertheless, the press brings curious art lovers to see for themselves. One thinks the laughter should be louder; another is disappointed that it’s not actually jelly-bean soup. With each complaint, Lucy changes her painting. More visitors come, each demanding that Lucy create something that in some way represents their own self-interest. Only her cat supports her vision. When a “big-city critic” declares her work insufficiently “FEROCIOUS,” Lucy tries hard to please, “splatter[ing] the beautiful painting with ink and garbage and mud,” but the critic is not impressed. The cat comforts a glum Lucy, quietly encouraging her to return to her own style—and when she does, she’s happy again. Fernandes’ illustrations borrow both palette and a sense of vegetative lushness from Gauguin; Lucy’s creations are almost wholly abstract. She is also the only human in the story—all the carping critics are anthropomorphic animals, lending a sense of fun and softening the unkindness of their remarks. The text shares the illustrations’ whimsy, delighting in words as much as Lucy delights in her art.
A valuable lesson in pursuing your own artistic star. (Picture book. 5-8)