cover image Drawing Lessons

Drawing Lessons

Tracy Mack. Scholastic, $15.95 (168pp) ISBN 978-0-439-11202-4

Mack's first novel covers familiar ground, but she weaves together enough powerful symbols and striking images to make for a vibrant showing. Rory loves getting drawing lessons from her artist father. He teaches her to see objects for what they are--and to use her imagination to create the world that she wants. When he moves out on her mother and her, Rory feels betrayed and rejected. She can no longer draw without his hand to guide her. Even when her father finally tries to explain why he left, Rory's head feels ""muddy, like a bucket of dirty paintbrush water."" Only following a climactic confrontation with her father does Rory learn to use his lessons to start painting her own world, both literally and figuratively. The plot is thin and the conclusion predictable, but Mack's images are memorable, such as Rory's stomachache that feels ""like thread pulled too taut through a sweater."" Some metaphors are obvious (e.g., the actually dead family tree), but the consistent use of colors in place of heavy analysis is effective in reflecting the way that Rory sees the world. Ages 10-up. (Mar.)