MR Horrox and the Gratch

James Reeves, Author, Quentin Blake, Illustrator Wellington Publishing Inc $13.95 (1p) ISBN 978-0-922984-08-4
This droll, slyly moralistic tale offers a subtle message about conformity and artistic perception: apparently abstraction, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Though the pictures painted by Mr. Horrox are ``very lifelike,'' his dealer, Mr. Smart, informs him that patrons are weary of ``farmyards and cottage doors with roses around them.'' Undaunted, the Englishman sets out for the fresh fields--and fresh inspiration--of Scotland, where he is cautioned about the Gratch, a playful, 100-year-old sprite. Soon canvases show signs of sabotage in the form of harum-scarum scribblings; unlike Mr. Horrox himself, readers can gleefully identify the culprit at once. Mr. Smart visits, and approves: ``They're most interesting . This is just what people want nowadays-- abstracts .'' When the truth dawns on Mr. Horrox, he procures some string (the Gratch's instrument of choice) and becomes ``even better than the invisible wee spirit.'' Rendered in a mix of full color and black-and-white, Blake's fey artwork captures the slapdash surroundings of a lovable eccentric. Ages 5-up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1991
Release date: 07/01/1991
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