cover image The Magical Life of Mr. Renny

The Magical Life of Mr. Renny

Leo Timmers, trans. from the Dutch by Bill Nagelkerke. Gecko Press USA (Lerner, dist.), $17.95 (36p) ISBN 978-1-8775-7920-2

Is it an apple? Or is it a painting of an apple? Belgian artist Timmers (Crow) pays tribute to Belgian artist René Magritte in a vibrant, highly entertaining inquiry into the difference between what’s real and what merely looks real. Mr. Renny, a dog who sells his paintings at the market, is offered a shot at endless wealth by a bowler-hatted stranger who makes Mr. Renny’s paintings turn instantly into the real thing. Tempted like King Midas, Mr. Renny paints desirable objects as fast as he can—a small, two-tone car, a four-tier cake, a dirigible. Then his old friend Rose discovers he’s sold out: “So you’re no longer a painter?” she sniffs. “What a pity, Mr. Renny. In that case, I’ll be on my way.” Is Mr. Renny a real artist? Or has he become someone who only looks like an artist? The translation is solid, the pacing is brisk, but it’s Timmers’s arch spreads that take the cake—Mr. Renny creates a delirious orgy of desire, from giant waffles to a supersize Cadillac Coupe de Ville and an ocean liner. Ages 4–up. (Sept.)