There are a few topics in books that get me so bristly I turn into a book reading porcupine. Homeschooling and Catholicism may seem like obvious bristle-inducing topics for me, but another that will bring out every bit of sharpness I possess is ART. Let’s just say I have strong feelings about it. And some pretty firm opinions. My husband is an artist; we talk about art all the time; we view and study and create art on a daily basis in my home. And the number one thing I can’t stand about so many books about art and artists is the way they are described as some sort of mystical, untenable, unapproachable things. Writers, of all people, should know that masterpieces are created by hard work, skill formed by hours of practice, and perseverance in the face of discouragement, difficulty, and distraction.
The first book in Carolyn Leiloglou’s new Restorationists series, Beneath the Swirling Sky, made my prickly, picky-about-art-books self want to cheer. And here’s the funny thing: in her story, art actually IS mystical and magical. Vincent comes from a long line of secretly magical art “Restorationists,” who use their skill to preserve, protect, and restore art that has been damaged by the evil Distortionists, who distort masterpieces of art to push their own agenda of eliminating truth and beauty. And yet, within that context, the author portrayed so perfectly the reality of art: it does have power. Artists are called. But they also work really really hard. Her story reminds those of us in the real world that the power Vincent possesses to create art that change the world is a power available to each one of us who chooses to work hard, develop skill, and be open to calling from a Creator who is greater than we are.
Now that my inner porcupine has finished its cheering, here’s a little more about the actual plot of the story. From the publisher’s description:
“After an experience he’d rather forget, Vincent is determined to be done with art. So when he and his little sister, Lili, spend spring break with their art conservator great-uncle, Vincent's plan is to stay glued to his phone.
That is, until Lili disappears into one of the world's most famous paintings and Vincent learns his parents have been hiding something from Their family is the last of The Restorationists, a secret society with the power to travel through paintings—and a duty to protect them from evil forces.
With Lili’s safety on the line, leaving art behind is no longer an option. Vincent must team up with his know-it-all second-cousin Georgia, wrestle with why his parents lied to him, and confront both his past and a future he never wanted. Young readers are invited into a captivating universe where paintings become a portal—and adventure and danger lurk beyond every canvas.”
If you’re not already entirely hooked, allow me to share this endorsement from my ten-year-old daughter:
“Beneath the Swirling Sky is one of my favorite books! I got so excited about it that almost all my siblings decided to read it, too. I really like drawing and might want to be an artist someday, so it was extra fun to read about a character who is an artist. Sometimes Vincent felt like he wasn’t a good enough artist, and I know how that feels. Reading this book made me want to keep trying even when it’s hard.”
So, yeah, if you were wondering if kids would like this book... Yes, they absolutely love it. We can’t wait for Book 2!
Hi! I'm Faith. I blog about books and creativity, family and faith. Welcome!