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Product details of BOOK: THE SIGN PAINTER

Early one morning a boy comes into town looking for work. He meets a sign painter who takes him on as a helper, and they are commissioned to paint a series of billboards in the desert. Each billboard has only one word, Arrowstar. They do not know its meaning. As they are about to paint the last sign, the boy looks up and sees in the distance a magnificent structure. Is it real? Together, they go to find out. From Publishers Weekly Like a 1930s cinematographer, Say (Grandfather's Journey), in perhaps his best work to date, pays tribute to a bygone era with a brief slice-of-life story about a boy's encounter with a sign painter. Neither the boy nor the sign painter has a name; what carries their connection and the story is their mutual love of painting. In the opening scene, Say depicts an Asian-American boy standing in front of an urban backdrop, right out of Edward Hopper's Early Sunday Morning: the red and green strip of storefronts and barber pole provide an ideal backdrop for the young painter's uniform of black trousers and white button-down shirt. From here, Say's full-page panel paintings almost tell the story by themselves. As the boy helps the sign painter work on a billboard, they receive a commission to paint a dozen more, all featuring a woman's face. Thus begins a journey across barren landscapes, through dust storms and into the foothills of a spectacular mountain range. The blonde woman on the billboards could have stepped out of a Hopper painting; one day, in a fleeting moment, she drives past the two paintersDlike Barbie in her pink Cadillac, in stark contrast to the desert scene. The purpose of the painters' enigmatic mission comes together like pieces of a puzzle through snippets of an overheard conversation. And when the job is finished, the boy, now returned to the city, stands in front of the corner bar from Hopper's Nighthawks, empty of customers. One can't help feeling wistful while gazing at this final scene. Say subtly and ingeniously blends a feeling of nostalgia with a hard-hitting immediacy. Even though young readers will not grasp its message as fully as adult readers, the images and the boy's passion as an artist will remain with them. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. From School Library Journal Grade 3-5-Puzzling is perhaps the best way to describe this latest offering from one of our most talented illustrators. The quirky, quasi-surreal tale begins with a young Asian-American man disembarking from a bus in a strange town. It's early in the morning and he makes his way to a sign shop where he asks for employment. When he tells the owner that he can paint, he's put to work. The two men soon receive a mysterious commission to paint a dozen billboards along a lonesome road running through the desert. The subject of the billboards is a blonde woman featured alongside the words "ArrowStar." After weathering a fierce dust storm, the painters are nearly run over by the real-life ArrowStar model's car and then spy in the distance the looming metal towers of ArrowStar-a rollercoaster. Eavesdropping reveals that it was constructed in anticipation of a highway being built. Its owner is apparently still clinging to his dreams of amusement-park glory despite unfavorable odds and the loss of his ArrowStar girl. The painters slip away unnoticed, pondering the power of dreams. The young man leaves for parts unknown the next day. Very painterly illustrations conjure up an earlier decade, perhaps the 1950s, and different scenes pay homage to Edward Hopper's cityscapes and Georgia O'Keeffe's Southwest landscapes. While the story's stark visuals match the almost existential tone of the text, they may not engage young readers. Similarly, the narrative is more likely to baffle children than drive home its message about honoring one's dreams, artistic or monolithic. Rosalyn Pierini, San Luis Obispo City-County Library, CA Hardcover: 32 pages Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (November 5, 2013) Language: English ISBN-10: 0544105141 ISBN-13: 978-0544105140 Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.1 x 8.5 inches

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