Behind every great painter there’s a great painter who’s a dog.
Remy the portrait painter “snort[s], grumbl[es] and attack[s] the canvas with brushes full of dripping paint.” He portrays “the essence of a person, not their likeness.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, his works aren’t popular, and he goes hungry—until Lulu comes along. She’s a small, neat dog in a top hat who paints a portrait of the subject’s pet in a low corner of each of Remy’s canvases. Patrons exclaim “Such detail!” and “Such color!” and “What a likeness!”—but they are referring to Lulu’s tiny animal portraits. Remy rises to fame. But one subject—an optometrist—gives Remy new spectacles, and suddenly he sees the truth. Lulu’s been so modest that weak-sighted Remy had no idea Lulu was contributing to the art. Woe to Remy’s dignity! “They rode home in silence,” and Remy’s palette dries out from disuse. The touching way they return to painting honors different artistic styles, though the whole premise also gently mocks Remy’s poor eyesight. Funnier is the understated text about demure Lulu: “ ‘I…paint from here,’ Remy said, tapping his chest. ‘Isn’t that right, Lulu?’ Lulu sniffed a potted plant.” Hawkes’ illustrations—full-bleed, framed or vignette—have a robust, painterly quality, while Lulu’s miniatures by Harrison are so precise and fancy they’re almost delightfully fussy.
Readers will find themselves with their noses to the pages to observe and enjoy the stylistic variation. (Picture book. 5-8)