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BETTINA VALENTINO AND THE PICASSO CLUB by Niki Daly

BETTINA VALENTINO AND THE PICASSO CLUB

By Niki Daly

Age Range: 8 - 11

Pub Date: May 8th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-374-30753-0
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The acclaimed South African author/illustrator ventures into chapter-book territory with this humorous account of how a new art teacher shakes up fifth grader Bettina Valentino’s school and inspires the fledgling artist. Quirky Bettina is an original, from her tufted hair to her active imagination. Whatever she does consumes her, whether it’s painting or mourning the possible loss of the controversial teacher who wears no shoes (getting energy from the earth), allows students to paint on hallway walls and has pictures of naked women in his art books. Mr. Popart introduces artists and movements from Paul Klee to Damien Hirst and from Dada to Cubism; Daly’s gray-scale line drawings reflect the variety of artistic styles. Secondary characters are sketchily developed, but readers will recognize the buttoned-up girl and “Ditto,” her inseparable companion, Mason, the boy who farts, and Bettina’s food-loving best friend and life-chronicler, Carmen-Daisy. This is an intriguing group readers will hope to meet again. Profusely illustrated and told in first-person chronological episodes, this may have appeal for some reluctant readers as well. (Fiction. 8-11)