From School Library Journal
Grade 2-4–Holbrook the lizard is a misunderstood artist. His happiness depends on his ability to hold a fine paintbrush in hand, to marvel over the vast array of paints, and to let his imagination soar. But the folks in the desert town of Rattler's Bend think his paintings are just squiggles, and that it's time to get a real job. Then an opportunity arises that will really measure his worth as an artist. Leaving the comfort of home, he embarks into the unknown where he enters a painting competition in Golden City. The place is full of renowned animals, and the best of the best have come to view the work of the most talented artists. When he arrives, Holbrook is struck by the strangeness of city culture and the creatures inhabiting this unknown world. When he shows his painting Starry Sky
, he encounters a host of unsavory creatures and must rely on newfound friendships and smarts just to stay alive. This delightful marriage of takeoffs of famous personalities (Margot Frogtayne, Enrico Escargot) and storytelling techniques yields an amusing cast of rich characters. This is a fun adventure that will capture the imagination of beginning chapter-book readers.–Robyn Gioia, Bolles School, Ponte Vedra, FL
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Holbrook, a young lizard who longs to prove to the other inhabitants of Rattler's Bend that he's a real artist, sets out for the big city with his best painting under his arm. Though befriended by luminaries such as ballerina Margot Frogtayne and tenor Enrico Escargot, he falls under the sway of a suave crook named Count Rumolde. With quick wits and a little help, Holbrook frees fellow painters' animals imprisoned by the count and stops a famous cook from turning the animal artistes into dinner for the carnivorous count. There are aspects of this fantasy that children will understand right away, such as Holbrook's longing for respect in his community, and others that they probably just won't get. To help with the latter, an appended note offers short introductions to artists referenced in the text, such as Enrico Caruso, Margot Fonteyn, T.S. Eliot, and Andy Warhol. The story moves along quickly, enlivened by dramatic situations, dry wit, and dynamic full-page illustrations. An enjoyable romp. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved