a Junior Library Guild Premier pick!

in stores this October!

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Kirkus Reviews:

Definitely a dream but no less exciting for that, this freewheeling escapade sends a lad in pursuit of international art thieves. News that the Mona Lisa has been stolen lifts Jack from his bed, transforms him into a secret agent with all sorts of cool gear and propels him across the Atlantic to recover the masterpiece before the nefarious no-goodniks can carry out their hideous plan to-well, follow Marcel Duchamp's lead. McCarthy crafts noirish cartoons of a popeyed, trench coat-clad Jack foiling repeated attempts on his life and braving such tortures as being forced to "watch videos of chickens dancing-OVER and OVER again!" He nabs the crooks, sneaks the relieved-looking portrait back to her rightful place in the Louvre, then, using "secret methods too treacherous to mention," ends up back in his room. A newspaper-style closing describes an actual theft of the Mona Lisa in the early 20th-century, giving this episode a tenuous connection with reality. This melodramatic adventure will keep young readers riveted. (Picture book. 6-9)


Children's Literature:

The famous painting of Mona Lisa is stolen by "a few crooked crooks." Our hero, young Jack, is awakened by a strange sort of flying radio, and given a mission: get it back. Dressed in a private-eye type brown hat and suit, which have appeared in his closet, and equipped with a special-agent watch, he enters a waiting car for his trip to return the painting to the Louvre. Meanwhile, those wicked crooks are planning to ruin the painting. Jack races to the rescue by car, then by plane, but unfortunately by mistake to Russia. There he is poisoned, kidnapped, subjected to ridiculous torture, bound, and dropped into a shark-filled sea. Luckily Jack's special-agent watch helps him set himself free in time to accomplish his mission. All the imaginative derring-do is doused with humor until the surprise end. The visual tale is told on long double pages dominated by backgrounds smoothly painted in acrylic in somber nighttime tones. The characters are cartoonish in their simplicity, with white, ping-pong-ball eyes. The large white words of text seem to jump from the dark pages, creating an atmosphere of humorous excitement. For readers with a bit of art knowledge, there are extra smiles for the parodies of famous paintings on the museum walls. An international edition of "The Mona Lisa Times" ("All the News That's Fit to Paint") closes the book, with the CIC information made part of the news, along with a reproduction of the lady herself and information about the time she really was stolen.


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