Nadia Wheatley, , illus. by Matt Ottley. . Kane/Miller, $15.95 (36pp) ISBN 978-1-929132-18-8

Where Luke's classmates see symmetrical faces and blueprint-precise architecture, Luke sees rearranged features à la Picasso and twisting towers in the style of Gaudí. But Luke's art instructor "[goes] ballistic" at signs of creativity. "He broke Luke's brushes into little tiny pieces. 'What's wrong with you, boy?' Mr. Barraclough shouted." Luke meekly holds his torn painting, the only spot of color on the page; his English-style boys' school, sketched in pen-and-ink on a neutral ground, is no place to indulge whims. Everything changes when Luke wanders away from his black-and-white world and through the golden door of a "building that looked like an ancient palace." In the museum, he frolics among abstract paintings in the mode of Mondrian, Ernst and Pollock; his pale features and gray school uniform take on strong color that doesn't fade when he goes back to school. Australian team Wheatley and Ottley suggest that Luke is transfigured by his adventure: in the concluding image, a speechless Mr. Barraclough looks over Luke's shoulder, and their shadows blend so that Luke appears to have angel's wings. This cumbersome book resorts to artistic affectations as it labors to describe a free spirit. Ages 5-up. (Oct.)