Mister Orange

by Truus Matti

Since Linus's older brother Albie joined the army to fight against the Nazis in Europe,... read more

Since Linus's older brother Albie joined the army to fight against the Nazis in Europe, everyone in their large family has moved up a notch in terms of responsibilities. Linus is now delivery boy for the family grocery in their vibrant New York City neighborhood. He misses Albie but finds solace in Albie's drawings of Mr. Superspeed, a superhero Albie created and who Linus imagines is keeping Albie safe. Linus also enjoys visiting Mr. Orange, his nickname for the new customer who has a crate of oranges delivered once a week. A painter from Europe, Mr. Orange lives in an apartment with spare furnishings, lots of light, and bright white walls. It's such a contrast to Linus's cramped home, and Linus likes how uncluttered everything feels. Mr. Orange's journey to America is the opposite of Albie's overseas, but it is also a journey that has to do with ideas and freedom, something Linus knows Albie is fighting for, and something that the jazz music Mr. Orange listens to and the bold, unusual painting featuring blocks of colors that he is creating seems to be about, too. Linus's deepening understanding of the hard things that can happen in life as he experiences changes in his family and neighborhood is juxtaposed with his discovery that this new kind of art can evoke a sense of possibility inside him. An afterword provides more information on Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, Mr. Orange's true identity, and "Victory Boogie-Woogie," the painting his character is working on in this singular novel. (Ages 10-13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2014

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