Reviews for Mister Orange

Booklist Reviews 2013 January #1
*Starred Review* When his oldest brother, Albie, joins the army in 1943, Linus takes over neighborhood deliveries for his parents' New York City grocery store. Soon he befriends an unusual new customer, an artist who always orders a crate of oranges. Unable to catch his name, Linus calls him Mr. Orange. Daily life goes on, with occasional letters from Albie in training camp and, later, in France. While Linus initially sees only the glory of war, his attitude shifts as he gradually comes to understand it more fully. Meanwhile, Mr. Orange, a character based on the painter Mondrian, shares his love of order, color, music, and dance with his young friend. Several appended pages supply information on the artist, his work, and his years in New York. Children's novels translated from other languages are rare in the U.S., but even more uncommon are those with an American setting. A Dutch writer whose Departure Time (2010) was a Batchelder Honor Book, Matti offers a compact middle-grade novel that is involving and informative. Written with clarity and simplicity, this accessible book features deftly drawn characters and a nuanced view of family life on the American home front, as well as insights into Mondrian's personality and paintings. An original. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
In 1943 Manhattan, Linus is the delivery boy for his family's grocery store. One customer is an artist who takes the time to talk to Linus about color, design, and "the future"; in an appendix we discover that the artist is Piet Mondrian. The various elements don't entirely mesh, but this Dutch import presents a fresh and immediate portrait of its time and place.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #2
In 1943 Manhattan, Linus's position in his large family shifts when his oldest brother, Albie, goes off to war and Linus is assigned a new job -- delivery boy for the family's grocery store. One of his customers is an artist, a kind elderly man who takes the time to talk to Linus about color, design, and "the future." Because of the old man's regular fruit order, Linus dubs him Mister Orange. Two plot lines move in parallel. Bohemian Mister Orange introduces Linus to the joys of jazz and the avant-garde; meanwhile, Albie's letters home become increasingly bleak until Linus realizes that war is nothing like the fantasy world of Mr. Superspeed, the comic-book hero that Albie had invented. Only in an appendix do we discover that Mister Orange is Piet Mondrian, who in the last years of his life lived in New York City, working on his painting Victory Boogie-Woogie. The various elements here don't entirely mesh, but this Dutch import by the author of Departure Time (rev. 11/10) presents a fresh and immediate portrait of the time and place. sarah ellis

Kirkus Reviews 2012 December #1
A young boy discovers the power of art during wartime in Matti's second novel (Departure Time, 2010). It's November 1943 in New York City. When Linus' older brother Albie leaves for the war, household responsibilities, just like the family's well-worn shoes, pass down from sibling to sibling. Linus inherits the job of delivering groceries for the family store, and every other week, he brings a crate of oranges to a man he dubs "Mister Orange." Based on the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, Mister Orange introduces Linus to the "the colors of the future"--yellow, red and blue--that decorate his canvases and his apartment. For Linus, visiting Mister Orange, with whom he discusses art and who teaches him the boogie-woogie, is a welcome distraction from Albie's absence. However, Linus soon wonders if art, whether it's comic books or Mister Orange's paintings, has a purpose when soldiers are dying. Matti ably depicts Linus' loss of innocence as he discovers the brutality of war. However, certain subplots, like a fight between Linus and his best friend, feel too easily resolved. The novel is strongest in the depiction of Linus' unlikely friendship with Mister Orange, who has a childlike spirit but also knows how art can be a way to fight for freedom. Concluding notes on Mondrian add context. A poignant story of art, growth and loss. (further reading, websites, list of museums) (Historical fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 November #4

Linus's older brother Albie has gone off to fight in WWII, and Linus, who lives in Manhattan, has inherited Albie's grocery delivery route and his love of comic books. On his grocery rounds, Linus meets Mister Orange, a forthright, unconventional artist who serves Linus as a provocative sounding board (he's modeled on Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, who lived in Manhattan during the war). Yet even open-minded Mister Orange presents Linus with a dilemma: what value does the artist's imagination have in the midst of a war? "If imagination were as harmless as you think," Mister Orange tells Linus, "then the Nazis wouldn't be so scared of it." Served well by Watkinson's graceful translation, Matti (Departure Time) draws an exceptionally sensitive portrait of introspective Linus and his understanding of what war is and what it does to its victims, as Albie's letters home grow increasingly sober. She avoids the temptation to pump up the story's action with gratuitous violence; the events of the book are low-key enough that the focus stays on Linus. It's a quiet novel, but a deeply touching one. Ages 11-up. (Jan.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 January

Gr 6-10--Linus Muller not only inherits his brother's shoes when Albie goes off to fight the Nazis, but he also inherits his job as a delivery boy in the family produce business. The new responsibilities to live up to his father's expectations for customer service and punctual deliveries using a home-built fruit cart in their 1943 New York City neighborhood weigh heavily on him. An eccentric customer with a funny-sounding name suggests Linus calls him Mister Orange, and Linus looks forward to the deliveries and seeing the man's modern-art creations. The bold use of primary colors against a bright white background is an eye-pleasing curiosity he is certain his parents would deem frivolous. At home, he eases worries about Albie and the war by becoming the custodian of Albie's cartoon sketchbooks, and he begins to hold imaginary conversations with one character, Mr. Superspeed, who has promised with all his superhero powers to keep Albie safe. When Mr. Superspeed fails in his duties and Albie gets sick overseas, Mister Orange commiserates with Linus. This is Linus's coming-of-age story for the most part, but it also brings to light the life of Dutch painter Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), who evolved the Neo-Plasticism style and was working on a painting known as Victory Boogie-Woogie during Linus's visits. An afterword offers factual information about the artist. The story is enough of an interest catcher for readers to explore further.--Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY

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