From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 6-9–Boyce's second novel is written with the same charm and deadpan humor as Millions (HarperCollins, 2004). Dylan Hughes is the only boy living in Manod, an uneventful Welsh town of drizzling grayness that he thinks is full of Hidden Beauty. His best buddies are two agoraphobic chickens named Michelangelo and Donatello after the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. His family runs the Snowdonia Oasis Auto Marvel garage. When the business falters, his father takes off, and Dylan, Mam, his older sister, Marie, and his aspiring criminal genius younger sister, Minnie, try to make Oasis more profitable so that he will return. Flooding in London causes the National Gallery to evacuate its paintings to the safety of Manod's mine. (An actual evacuation to the Manod slate quarry occurred during World War II.) Lester, the art expert in charge, takes a shine to Dylan as an art connoisseur on hearing the chickens' names. When he agrees to put one masterpiece at a time on view, the villagers' lives are changed. Minnie concocts a hilarious scheme to nick Van Gogh's Sunflowers, replacing it with a paint-by-number affair. All gets sorted out and Dad comes home. The colorful characters steal the show–even the secondary players are cleverly drawn. But it is Dylan's narrative voice, with its unintended humor, appealing naïveté, and expression of absolute belief in his dad that is truly a masterpiece.–Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
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In a quiet Welsh town, nine-year-old Dylan Hughes helps his family run the struggling Snowdonia Oasis Auto Marvel. Quirky characters populate the community, including Daft Tom, who has a decades-old obsession with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, cartoon characters named for Renaissance artists. One day a convoy of vans passes through town, headed to some abandoned slate quarry mines. Dylan learns that the convoy is transporting paintings taken from the National Gallery because of flooding in London (an incident based on a real art evacuation that took place during World War II). It isn't long before Dylan's own familiarity with the cartoon turtles results in a misunderstanding about his knowledge of art. Like the mutagen that transformed the Turtles, the presence of the paintings brings changes to Dylan's family and to the townsfolk. Even with an attempted painting heist, this is a quieter book than Millions (2004), but the readers who take to its message about the importance of art will be charmed. A list of the hidden paintings is appended. Chasing Vermeer, by Blue Balliett may be a good follow-up. Cindy Dobrez
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