Bettina Valentino doesn't just love art, her life is art. She sports a Flock of Seagulls haircut, loves the colours white and black, a father who says everything as if he's singing the chorus of "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover," and counts Picasso as an inspiration. That's why she's so unhappy with the current (uninspiring) state of the art classes at Bayside Prep. Then, as if by magic, in comes Mr. Popart, the colour-mixing, no-shoes-wearing, Dada-loving, student-inspiring new art teacher. Bettina loves him, as does the rest of the class - everyone except Maxine, that is, who takes exception to Mr. Popart's freewheeling ways and book of Matisse nudes. Faster than you can say "Oh Captain, my Captain," Mr. Popart finds his job in jeopardy, and Bettina must figure out a way to stand up for her favourite teacher.
The book offers a spunky, artistic heroine; positive messages about being yourself and standing up to the crowd; and a lot of factual information about art. While I grew tired of Bettina's attitude toward and unflattering descriptions of her friend Carmen-Daisy, I ultimately really enjoyed the book. At just over a hundred pages it was a fairly quick read, and while there's no shortage of spunky, individualistic female characters in middle grade books, they're still fun to read about.
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Read it with:
The Manny Files by Christian Burch
The Rule of Three by Megan McDonald
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
Seen Art? by Jon Scieszka
I got this book: from my library.