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Petra Mathers

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Hardcover, Aug. 10 1993 --  
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Book Description

Aug. 10 1993
The shy guard at an art museum falls in love with the sad young woman in a painting that mysteriously appears one day.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (Aug. 10 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067983060X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679830603
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 22.2 x 27.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,049,419 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In the latest romantic picture book from Mathers ( Sophie and Lou ), a shy museum guard becomes enamored of the young woman in a painting that's delivered one day. " 'No idea where this came from,' says the museum director," but Victor offers up wall space for it. He is mesmerized by the subject of the work, titled "Cousin Christabel on Her Sickbed." He talks to Christabel, brings her flowers and even places a nightlight nearby "to keep the goblins away." Readers are treated to the strange history of the painting while Victor pines for his seemingly unattainable love. Then, just as mysteriously as the painting appeared, Christabel comes to life. Mathers's intricate tale is wrought with plenty of intrigue and sentiment as she skillfully reiterates the theme that love can conquer all. Her rich gouache paintings--in earthy tones, occasionally splashed with bright yellow or dazzling red--embody a variety of moods, from sinister to sad, and are a perfect match for this emotional roller-coaster ride of a story. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-4-This tale of two lonely crocodiles, kindred spirits, who find one another and (it is presumed) love and happiness through a series of amazing and magical events, is distinctly unchildlike. When a mysterious painting appears at the museum where Victor works as a guard, he is immediately attracted to the sleeping Christabel in the portrait. Meanwhile, the story behind the painting is revealed: the mousy croc has been transformed into art by her evil magician cousin, Anatole Fidibus. He did this to her in a fit of pique, as he found her insufferably annoying. Readers are likely to agree with him, as her most distinguishing characteristic is that "She always did as she was told. Knowing this, she had long ago decided to live alone." Victor becomes increasingly obsessed with the picture, finally releasing her from the spell quite accidentally. Mathers's paintings, done in a palette of lush jewel tones and soft pastels, do not give the protagonists the spark that's missing in the narrative. Art complements text, in that both manage to portray the crocodiles in an unappealing manner. Anatole, in his splendid blue wizard's robe, is more interesting, although even he utters strangely inane epithets. Victor and Christabel are simply too unremarkable to elicit interest or sympathy.
Corinne Camarata, Port Washington Public Library, NY
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intolerance and Intrigue: Victor and Christabel March 10 2007
By Just One More Book! Children's Book Podcast - Published on Amazon.com
Packed with colour and captivating character, this modern fairy tale whisks us through the darkness of domination, the sweet spell of infatuation and the prison of our own limitations -- then leaves us chewing dreamily on the issues it presents.

Sadly, this is another wonderful book which has fallen out of print. I hope your library has a copy.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Eh ... so-so ... June 11 2008
By Kitsune - Published on Amazon.com
The illustrations for this children's book are sweet and colorful, but not particularly detailed or creative. Victor, a guard at an art museum, becomes intrigued by, and eventually falls in love with, the ailing Christabel, the subject of a mysterious new painting. Fortunately for Victor, Christabel is a real person (er, crocodile) who has merely been enchanted into the painting by her wicked magician cousin, so he does stand a chance at freeing her and thus winning her love.

Frankly, I liked the premise of this book, but the author doesn't really care about pesky things like details. For instance, I felt Christabel was rather dull, and if it hadn't been for the fact that Victor obviously cared about her, I wouldn't have given a hoot whether she escaped from the painting or not. As one of the editorial reviews noted, her defining characteristic is that she is extremely obedient, allowing her evil cousin to use and abuse her in her own house! That sort of thing went out with "Cinderella," thanks. Plus, the aforementioned cousin's sudden appearance is bizarre, and obviously a deus ex machina to get Christabel into the painting in the first place. Some original plotting would have been nice. Overall, a neat premise and cute illustrations, but disappointing.

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